Work Header

The List

Work Text:


In hindsight, Liam knows not to listen to Louis. They’ve been friends since their first year, when the sorting hat placed them both in Gryffindor and Louis had sat himself down right beside Liam with a bright, slightly nervous, “I’m Louis Tomlinson, we’re going to be best friends.” It was a bit ridiculous, looking back on it, but Liam had been fairly caught up in the nerves and excitement of their first day, and Louis had terrified him almost as much as the rest of Hogwarts; Liam had been powerless to do anything but nod. Now, Liam wishes he’d of told Louis to fuck off. His life would be a hell of a lot less stressful if he had, because he has realized over that time that each and every one of his problems in life can be blamed on Louis.

Okay, so Liam could have said no. Actually, he had said no, but he could have said it with more conviction. He could have convinced Louis not to do it, but instead he had relented and agreed to help because, as Louis put it, “If you help then there’s no way we’ll screw it up and get in trouble.” Louis has a way of making the worst possible ideas seem like the plans of a genius.

It’s still a bit of a surprise that he’s in this situation, though. Liam didn’t think it was possible for Louis and Niall’s plan to prank the Slytherins to go this bad, and yet he is somehow stranded in the dungeons, hiding in a small closet at what must be two in the morning, with a group of angry Slytherins blocking one way, and Filch blocking the other. There is literally no way for him to get out of this, and he is either going to die by the hands of the pissed off Slytherins or get expelled for helping Louis flood the Slytherin common room and also light their couch on fire (which had been an accident on Niall’s part, though he really doubts that their headmaster is going to care either way).

Liam, as quietly as he can, mutters, “Lumos.” The bright light of his wand illuminates the small, square room he’s in, and he cups his hand over it so that the light won’t shine through the cracks under the door.

He didn’t know what he expected, but there is no alternate exit to this closet. He is stuck in here until tomorrow, possibly, when Filch finds something better to do than chase after the student he’d seen dashing down the hall, and the Slytherins are too busy with class to keep up the search party. And that’s only if they don’t find him in here first.

He wishes he had some way to contact Louis to get him to act as a distraction so Liam can run free, but sadly wizards have yet to learn the convenience of cellphones.

Liam sighs and leans against the wall before sinking to the cold, stone ground, right beside a broom and a rusted metal bucket. He leans his head back against the wall just as the room gets suddenly cold. He snaps his eyes back open and nearly jumps as a ghost drifts in through the opposite wall, but then he’s scrambling up, eyes wide, because this could help.

Of course, everyone knows that the Grey Lady doesn’t talk. He wishes she were Nearly Headless Nick (because he would help Liam without a seconds hesitation), or The Fat Frair (who would scold Liam first, probably, but would help him in the end, too). This is his only chance, though, and he can’t let it pass him by.

“Um, excuse me, miss,” he starts, and the ghost turns to him with a blank look on her face. “Right, I know I’m not in your house, and I wouldn’t expect you to help me, but I’m sort of in a bit of trouble here and I was wondering if there’s anyway that you could possibly help me.”

The Grey Lady regards him with the same cool, indifferent look for a long moment before her lips turn up just a bit in the ghost (no pun intended) of a smile. She lifts a finger and then disappears through the wall. Liam watches her go, feels the heat seep back into the room, and then wonders if she’s really going to help him. Honestly, he doubts it. If he were a Ravenclaw she probably would, but he’s not in her house, and she has no reason to actually help him.

Liam sinks back to the floor, ready to stick it out for the rest of the night. Maybe he can pull off his robes and use them as a pillow, but then he’d likely freeze to death in his sleep because the dungeons are far too cold.

He hears footsteps by the door and holds his breath when a familiar voice drawls, “He had to go down this hall. Filch is blocking the other way. There’s no way he got out of here.”

Fucking Harry fucking Styles, Liam thinks. Right now there is not a single part of him that regrets the prank they played on him.

“Check the closet,” Harry snaps, and someone steps closer to Liam’s door. Liam stands up, wand at the ready, but then someone shrieks and Harry shouts, “What the fuck was that?”

“They ran left,” someone answers, and then he hears the group running down the hall, their footsteps echoing as they go.

Liam lets out a sigh of relief and lowers his wand just as the door to the cupboard opens. A moment later it closes as if of it’s own accord, and if Liam didn’t know what to look for, he’d think that there was no one there. Except he does know what to look for, catches the slight ripple in the air in front of the door, and then the spell wears off and he’s left alone in a small closet with Zayn Malik.

“What are you doing here?” Liam blurts.

Zayn’s hair is a rumpled mess, much different than the usually carefully styled quiff. His eyes are wide in a way that distinctly reminds Liam of Louis when he’s just woken up. “The--,” he pauses to yawn, “Grey Lady woke me up and told me there was a lost Gyrffindor locked in a closet in the dungeons, and I figured, you know, who else could it possibly be? What are you doing in here?”

Liam swallows and says, a little sheepishly, “It’s kind of a long story.”

Zayn rolls his eyes, a haughty expression on his face, which isn’t exactly an uncommon thing between the two of them. “Of course it is,” he says. “I swear, Gryffindors are not brave. They’re cocky to the point of idiotic recklessness, and people mistake your terrible decisions for acts of grandeur.”

“Did you come here to insult me or to help me?” Liam snaps, crossing his arms over his chest.

Zayn sighs and then steps a bit closer to him, close enough that Liam can almost count each of his dark, feathery eyelashes, not that he’d, like, want to. Zayn lifts his wand and taps Liam on the head, and then a moment later he shivers as something cold and invisible seems to almost drip down his head and over his entire body.

“Huh,” Liam says, looking down to find himself almost completely invisible. If he moves his leg a bit he thinks he can see a ripple in the air, but other than that he’s completely concealed by the spell.

“Disillusionment charm,” Zayn explains, waving his wand around himself. Liam watches as Zayn slowly slips away. “This will get us out of the dungeons. Just remember that next time I’m not going to be here to bail you out, alright?”

“I never asked you to,” Liam points out. It’s a bit weird, following behind Zayn’s invisible body. He can feel the heat radiating off him when he steps too close, but other than that, and his voice, it’s like he’s alone.

Zayn snorts and the door opens slowly at first, and then is pushed all the way open. “If I didn’t you’d be spending the night in this fucking closet,” Zayn points out. “You should be thanking me.”

“I was going to,” Liam whispers as they step out into the hall, “but somewhere between ‘Gryffindors aren’t brave’ and ‘reckless idiocy’, I forgot to.”

Liam begins to head left, but Zayn grabs his arm and tugs him right. Zayn’s hand slides down his arm to encircle his wrist. Liam waits for him to drop it, waits for the gentle pressure of his fingers to disappear. It doesn’t happen, and he’s not sure if he’s pleased or annoyed by this, because Zayn’s fingers and long and slightly calloused and nice, but Zayn is also sort of stuck up and annoying.

The dungeons are dank and quiet, and the sound of their footsteps seems to echo off the walls. Liam’s slightly paranoid, he can admit that, and he keeps waiting for someone to round the corner and spot them. Zayn must know what he’s doing, though, because he guides Liam easily down the hall, turns him left, and then they’re both crouching against the wall and watching as Filch paces in front of the staircase that leads to freedom.

“Don’t move,” Zayn whispers from in front of him.

“Why?” Liam asks.

He figures that Zayn’s probably rolling his eyes. “Because I said so. Just-- don’t move. I’ll be right back.”

Zayn’s hand drops from his wrist and then the quiet sound of his robes moving alerts Liam to the fact that he’s walking away, as well as the sudden change in atmosphere, and the disappearance of the mildly citrus smelling cologne that seems to cling to Zayn.

Liam holds his breath and watches Filch, waiting for something to happen. He’s not sure what exactly it is that he’s waiting for, but when the sound of fireworks erupts somewhere in the distance, Liam is mildly impressed. A beat later Filch is running off down the hall, and then Zayn’s yelling, “Run!”

Liam dashes for the stairs, not looking back once. His feet slap against the stone as he goes, and his breath hitches in his throat as he takes the stairs two at a time. He can hear someone behind him, prays that it’s Zayn, but doesn’t risk the chance of turning around to check. He just keeps going until his hands hit the hard wooden door at the top of the stairs. He flings it open and doesn’t slow down as he runs in the direction of the Great Hall.

“Slow down!” Zayn shouts from behind him. Liam does, whirling around to make sure they’re alone. He can’t see anyone, so he figures it must just be him and Zayn.

A solid body slams into him, and Liam’s arms instinctually go around Zayn’s waist to hold him up. Or he’s pretty sure that’s Zayn’s waist, but he can’t really tell because, you know, invisibility.

“Fuck,” Zayn pants. “I’m too-- out of shape-- for this shit.”

Liam grins even though Zayn can’t see it. “Well, you know, if you spent less time in the library--,”

“If you spent more time in the library,” Zayn snaps, “and less time listening to Tomlinson’s ridiculous plans, I wouldn’t have to save your ass constantly.”

They walks past the Great Hall and continue down the hallway. Personally, Liam loves the castle at night when it’s nearly silent, nothing but the wind howling outside and the occasional ghost drifting through the walls to accompany him. And Zayn, of course, because more often than not it is Zayn who spends his evenings with Liam when things like this happen. It’s not like Liam asks him to, though. Zayn is just somehow always around to save the day, much to Liam’s annoyance, because he never does it without an insult and a holier-than-thou attitude.

They climb the staircases together, even though Liam knows that they passed the route Zayn would take to get back to his own common room a while back. When they get to the portrait of the Fat Lady, she’s asleep. The loud sound of her snores would have Liam laughing if he weren’t so used to it.

“Um.” Liam chews his lip and tries to face Zayn, but he can’t tell if he manages. “How long until this spell wears off?”

“It doesn’t,” Zayn answers. The rustling of his cloak proceeds the tap on his head from Zayn’s wand, and it’s like that cool liquid that seemed to drip down him when Zayn cast the spell is retreating, and he watches his legs come into focus, and then his waist, and then his arms. He feels Zayn’s breath, hot and damp on his neck, and then Zayn says quietly, “Don’t let it happen again, Gryffindor.”

Liam’s grateful for the cloak he’s wearing because it hides the goosebumps that now cover his arms.

He listens to the sound of Zayn’s footsteps until he can no longer hear them, and then he coughs politely, trying to wake the woman in the painting. The Fat Lady only snores louder, until Liam has no choice but to say, quite loudly, “Excuse me.”

The Fat Lady blinks open her eyes and glares at him. “Do you realize what time it is?” she demands. She shakes her head. “Every time with you, Payne, I swear. And here I thought you were the good influence, and yet you’re always out of bed late, and you’re always in far later than the others--,”

“Gillyweed,” Liam says, cutting her off.

“Oh, fine, don’t listen to me, then,” the Fat Lady snaps, the portrait swinging open. “But one of these days you’re going to be caught, and then I’ll have nothing to say but I told --,”

Liam closes the door on her lecturing. It’s not the first time and, unless he decides to suddenly stop being friends with Louis, it won’t be the last. And it’s not like Liam wants to be out of bed at three in the morning. In fact, he’d very much so like to be in his warm canopy bed, with his comforter pulled up to his chin, warm and asleep, dreaming of boys with long lashes and eyes that can’t seem to decide whether they want to be brown, amber, or hazel.

“Where were you?” Louis snaps.

Liam looks up to find Louis leaning over the back of the couch, eyebrows raised. He spots Niall’s blonde hair peaking up over the edge of the couch too, but the other boy doesn’t turn around to harp on Liam like Louis has.

“You left me down there,” Liam reminds him. “Remember that? I was stuck between Filch and Styles, and I had to hide in a closet, until Zayn--,”

“Malik to the rescue again, then?” Louis asks, his accusatory look changing into one of amusement.

Liam shrugs. “Yeah. The Grey Lady got him for me.”

Liam walks around to the other side of the couch to find Niall sitting with a mug of butterbeer in his hand, eyelids heavily drooped. His black and yellow tie is undone and hanging from his neck, and his hair is a dishevelled mess.

“Spending the night in our common room again?” Liam asks, ignoring the smirk on Louis’ face.

Niall grunts. “Too tired to go back to mine.”

“Are you trying to change the subject?” Louis asks, cocking his head to the side. “Because I wasn’t done hearing about your knight in shining Ravenclaw armour.”

Liam narrows his eyes. “Maybe he wouldn’t have to come to the rescue all the time if you would stop getting us into trouble.”

Niall snorts and Louis waves a hand. “That’s about as likely as Styles declaring his undying love for me. It’s just not going to happen, Liam. You should be used to this by now.”

Liam sinks to the floor by Niall’s feet and steals the drink from his hands, taking a long sip. “I know,” Liam admits. “Doesn’t mean I don’t still hate you for it.”

“You love me for it,” Louis argues. “If I didn’t get you in trouble, Zayn wouldn’t spend half as much time with you, and then we’d get Brooding Liam again, like in third year when he dated Melissa Belcourt.”

Liam doesn’t even bother blushing at this anymore. No matter how many times he denies it, and points out the fact that Zayn seems to dislike Liam quite a bit, Niall and Louis refuse to let it go. So, instead of getting worked up, he just tilts his head back against the couch and closes his eyes, praying that he can fall asleep like this. He doesn’t really want to sneak up to his room and risk waking Ben after last time, because he didn’t seem to appreciate Louis and Liam coming in at all hours of the night.




Liam is exhausted the next day. He wakes up to the sound of people milling about around him, and then someone hits him in the face with a cushion and he jerks upright, eyes flying open. Louis yawns and drops the pillow with a drawn out, “Class in twenty.”

Liam groans and stretches while Louis works on waking Niall. It’s a sign of just how close the three of them are that not a single person questions Niall’s presence in their common room. It isn’t exactly usual for a student from another house to even enter another house’s common room, let alone spend as much time in it as Niall does in theirs.

Liam leaves his friends behind and trudges up the stairs, passing by Ben, who glares at him and says, “Another late night, Payne?”

“Don’t know what you’re talking about,” Liam denies.

There is a large part of him that considers jut falling into bed and missing classes for the day when he walks into his room, but he won’t do it because Liam doesn’t want to push his luck. They got away with last night, he doesn’t want to risk it.

He tugs off his clothes from last night and slips into a clean pair of dress pants, one of his white button ups, the black jumper with the Gryffindor crest on the breast, and his house tie. By the time he’s dressed and ready, Louis and Niall are already gone. He sighs, not surprised, and makes his way down to the Great Hall.

He spots his friends at the Hufflepuff table, Louis sitting between Niall and Josh, telling a story and using his hands as much as he does his voice. “-- entire couch just erupted into flames, right, and you should have seen Liam’s face. He looked half terrified and half turned on. I think there’s a pyromaniac hiding inside that boy, for--,”

“You’re an idiot,” Liam mutters, falling into the seat across from him. He steals a buttered bun off Louis’ plate instead of getting one for himself, mostly because he can’t be bothered to lift a knife right now.

Louis is glaring at him and trying to steal the bun back, but Liam lifts his arm above his head, and Louis is short enough that he can’t reach it. Niall is ignoring them completely in favour of the sausages on his plate, and Josh is watching them with an amused look, like they’re a wonderful form of entertainment. Which, to be fair, they probably are.

Louis pulls out his wand and points it threateningly at Liam, but before either of them can do anything someone slams a piece of paper down on the table, nearly knocking over a pitcher of juice.

“What the fuck-- oh,” Louis says, his look of annoyed confusion changing to a smug one. “Styles. Having a good morning?”

“I’m calling a truce,” Harry states, crossing his arms over his chest. His eyes are narrowed and his hair is a mess. He looks even more exhausted than Liam feels.

“A truce,” Louis repeats. “Why would you do that?”

Liam picks up the paper Harry had placed on the table, eyes scanning over it.

“Because you managed to simultaneously flood our common room and light our furniture on fire,” Harry spits. “You psychotic, egotistical son of a --,”

“I thought you came over here to call truce, not to insult me,” Louis cuts in.

“This doesn’t look like a truce,” Liam points out, frowning down at the words Acquire any object of subjects choosing from the headmaster’s office.

“It’s not,” Harry admits, lips quirking up. “I figured Tomlinson wouldn’t go for a simple white flag, because he’s insane, so instead I’m offering you a deal. First house to complete every item on this list wins. No pranks are allowed until at least one team has finished the list, and when it’s finished the loser admits defeat, ceases fire, and dresses in the winning house’s colours for the final week of the year.”

“Give me that,” Louis says, reaching for the list. Liam hands it over and Louis’ eyes dart down the page. “Who made these up?” Louis questions. “Get a date with someone from the opposing team’s house. Are you serious?”

“Not fair,” Niall cuts in. “I can’t participate.”

“Actually, you can,” Harry says, pointing at the top of the list. “Either houses can request the assistance of one member from one of the exempt houses.”

“Only one?” Louis inquires, raising his eyebrows at Josh, who looks like he really, really doesn’t want any part of this.

“Only one,” Harry confirms. “I’ve already chosen mine, you chose yours.”

“Niall, obviously,” Louis says. “What about you?”

“Here he comes now, actually,” Harry says, straightening up a bit. He lifts a hand and shouts, “Malik, get your arse over here.”

Liam lifts his eyes, catching Zayn’s gaze for just a moment before Zayn’s eyes slide over to Harry. He pauses on his way to the Ravenclaw table and veers towards them instead, hands buried deeply in the pockets of his trousers.

“What?” Zayn asks.

“I was just explaining to Tomlinson the rules for our truce,” Harry tells him.

Zayn gives Harry an exasperated look. “You were serious about that? I thought you were joking.”

“Deadly serious,” Harry says with a grin. “As long as they accept.”

“Oh, we accept,” Louis says, a determined set to his jaw. “We definitely accept. And we’re going to make you regret this whole thing.”

“Then sign at the bottom of the page,” Harry says, pointing to the dotted line. “And you have to sign with your wand, not a quill.”

Louis shrugs and presses the tip of his wand to the paper. It almost seems to burn the letters into the page as Louis writes his name in an elegant, swirling script. A moment later the letters flash green and then red before settling on black.

“You get to keep this copy,” Harry tells him. “We have one of our own. The contract will be able to tell when you’ve completed one of the tasks, and there’s no way to cheat it. The challenge starts at midnight tonight,” he adds. “Let the best team win.” He leers at Louis. “I can’t wait to see you in the Slytherin colours. I bet green looks good on you.”

Zayn looks mildly uncomfortable standing there beside Harry, hands still in his pockets. Liam considers giving him a welcoming smile, but then decides that it’s probably best not to. If Zayn wanted to talk to him, he would.

Zayn meets his eyes for a moment and winks at him. Liam frowns, nearly choking on the bite of bread he’d just taken, but before he can react any farther, Harry is grabbing Zayn’s arm and tugging him off towards the Slytherin table, his blue and bronze tie standing out amongst the sea of green and silver.

“I still don’t get why they’re friends,” Liam mutters, eyes still on Zayn, who has his head ducked and is muttering a response to something Harry just said, lips tilted up in a faint grin. Harry laughs at whatever he said, and then Zayn’s eyes lift to Liam’s before darting back down to his plate.

“Does that honestly say ‘get a blowjob in any one of the four common rooms’?” Niall asks suddenly, pulling Liam’s attention away from things he probably shouldn’t be spending so much time focusing on anyways.

Liam frowns and shakes his head. “No, it doesn’t--,”

“Yeah, it does,” Louis interrupts. “Rights below ‘go on a date to the shrieking shack’ and right above ‘steal any animal related item from the groundskeeper ’s hut’.”

Liam closes his eyes and breathes deeply, but that still doesn’t help. “We’re going to get expelled,” he states.

Louis shrugs and reaches for a new bun. “That’s a small price to pay if we manage to win this.”

“You really are insane,” Josh puts in.

Niall, Louis and Liam turn to him, and the three of them just laugh because, yeah, they’re aware.




Liam sleeps through his first two classes of the day. He’d feel a bit guilty for it, but it’s only History of Magic with Binns (which he tends to fall asleep in even after a full night’s rest) and Charms with Madam Cartwright, who only has them practising spells that Liam had perfected last year.

Lunch is spent with Louis and Niall discussing the challenge, and Liam only sort of pays attention. He needs to sleep tonight, no matter what Louis says. He can’t do another day on only three hours of sleep. It’s too exhausting on his body, and plus, he has Quidditch tomorrow, and since he’s captain he really can’t afford to spend the entire time falling asleep on his broom.

Someone drops into the seat next to his in Potions and Liam startles before the smell of citrus invades his senses. He sighs and resists the urge to lean into Zayn, if only because Zayn would likely hex him for it, and Zayn is fairly good at hexes.

“Hey,” Zayn says easily, spreading his books out on the desk in front of him. Zayn is always so prepared for class, while Liam tends to forget his books in his room and has borrowed so many pens off Louis that Louis had started to make Liam pitch in every time he bought some.

“Hi,” Liam says quietly, eyes struggling to stay open.

Zayn is silent as their teacher starts up the class, discussing the various properties of the complicated potion they’re going to be working on today and tomorrow, which needs to stew for at least half an hour and the ingredients need to be very carefully added. He’s restlessly tapping his pencil on his desk, though, and he’s chewing his lip, obviously not really paying attention. That’s a little surprising, because in all the classes Liam’s had with Zayn, Zayn has always been one of those students that will hiss at you to be quiet if he hears you snickering in the back of the room and not giving the professor your full attention.

“Are you sure this whole thing with the Slytherins is a good idea?” Zayn asks, finally cracking. He turns to Liam with wide, worry filled eyes, which Liam would find almost adorable if it weren’t for the annoyed set to his mouth.

“No, I’m not,” Liam admits. “But Louis already signed the contract, so it’s not like we really have a choice.”

“You could admit defeat,” Zayn suggests. “Half of the things on that list are more than enough to get you expelled, you realize.”

“I’m aware,” Liam replies, dropping his eyes to his paper. He tries to write down what their professor is saying, but she’s talking far too fast and Liam’s not really paying much attention.

Zayn makes an annoyed sound. “Do you purposefully go looking for trouble? Honestly, Liam, it’s always one thing or another with you.”

Liam frowns at him. “For one, I don’t go looking for trouble, thanks. Trouble happens to be my best friend. And second of all, like I’ve pointed out thousands of times, you don’t have to constantly save me, you know.”

Zayn snorts but then a soft, reluctant smile fights its way onto his lips. “Yeah, but if I didn’t then who would?”

“You’re part of this too, you know,” Liam reminds him. “Styles roped you into being on his team.”

“He didn’t rope me into anything,” Zayn denies. “I offered.”

Liam gapes at him. “Why would you do that?”

Zayn smirks and shrugs. “It’s all good fun, Liam. And plus, I’m careful enough that getting caught isn’t as much of an issue for me as it is for you.”

Liam narrows his eyes. The issue with Zayn is that Liam is never sure whether or not he likes him. Sometimes, Zayn is sort of sweet and shy and he’s got a thing for always being there right when Liam needs him. But then he’s also one of Harry’s best friends, and he shows as many Slytherin qualities as he does Ravenclaw. He’s arrogant and vain and more than a little rude when he wants to be. And he has a thing for teasing Liam, apparently.

“I doubt you’ll be saying that when we win,” Liam quips, shoulders tensed.

Zayn laughs and puts a hand on Liam’s thigh. “You’re cute when your wrong, you know that?”

Liam pushes his hand off, praying that his cheeks aren’t as red as they feel. “We’ll see.”

“We will,” Zayn agrees.

Liam pointedly ignores Zayn for the rest of class. Or he attempts to, but he feels Zayn’s eyes on him more than once, and it’s a little difficult to ignore the way his leg jiggles under the desk, and the quiet whispers under his breath as he reads over his notes.

Liam was finally tuning out Zayn’s humming of a song that Liam didn’t recognize when the other boy grabbed his parchment from him. Liam’s head jerks up and he fixes Zayn with a look that Louis himself would be proud of, but Zayn is too busy writing something on the corner of the page to notice.

When he’s done he slides the paper back to Liam and then resumes his work like nothing happened. Liam gapes at him, waiting for him to say something, but he doesn’t, so he looks at his parchment. On the top left corner he’s written the words Hungarian Horntail .

“What does that even mean?” Liam asks.

Zayn doesn’t answer.




“No way,” Liam moans. “Louis, come on. No. Not tonight. I’m too tired, we have Quidditch tomorrow, and--,”

“And the contract starts working at exactly midnight, Liam,” Louis says pointedly. “We have to get a head start, and if we don’t we’ll lose, and do you really want to lose? Just think of how smug Harry will be about it, not to mention the fact that you’re not impressing Zayn at all if you lose--,”

“Why would I want to impress him?” Liam demands.

“Because you’ve been in love with him for, like, four years,” Niall supplies from where he’s lounging in one of the armchairs by the fire.

Liam doesn’t deem that worthy of a response. “I just think that we should wait until tomorrow at least .”

“The Slytherins won’t wait until tomorrow,” Niall points out.

Liam sighs and sinks farther back into the couch. Normally he loves the couches in the common room. They’re soft and comfortable and they sink in just the right amount. Right now nothing but his bed will suffice, though. It nearly eleven at night, and the day has just been too much on him, not to mention the night before.

“Let’s just read over the list just to see if there’s anything we can do that won’t take much effort,” Louis offers.

Liam groans. “Fine, but I’m not agreeing to anything else.”

“Fair enough,” Louis concedes.

Liam closes his eyes as Louis reads over the list and Niall does whatever it is Niall does. Every few moments Louis tsks or murmurs something. It’s distracting, and Liam is seriously considering bailing on this whole thing and heading upstairs to bed.

“There are forty-six things on this list,” Louis states. Liam blinks open his eyes. “Some of these are going to be really hard. Like-- getting into the headmaster’s office is going to be nearly impossible, because you need a password, and it’s a better kept secret than the Hufflepuff common room entrance.”

“Still not telling you where it is,” Niall pipes up.

“I’ll figure it out eventually,” Louis tells him. “But seriously, how are we supposed to figure out the password to his office? There’s no way.”

Liam frowns, bottom lip caught between his teeth. He worries it for a moment, wondering if he could possibly be right about this. “The password could be anything, right?”

“Virtually,” Louis answers distractedly. “It’ll be damn near impossible to figure out, but--,”

“I think I might have an idea of what it is,” Liam says quietly. He doesn’t know why he thinks this, but he’s always trusted his gut unless it comes to Louis (because it always screams to run far, far away, and Liam is far too attached to the crazy lad to do that now), and he has a feeling this might work.

Louis grins slowly, and it’s a grin that Liam knows well-- one that always leads to bad things.




At exactly midnight Liam finds himself on the third floor, just down the hall from the opening to the headmaster’s office. Louis is right behind him, list in his pocket, and Niall is at the other end of the hall, ready to alert them to anyone who might possibly come their way. Why Liam is the one stuck doing this, he has no idea.

“What if it doesn’t work?” Liam hisses, peeking his head around the corner. He can just see Niall’s blonde hair from this far away.

“Then it doesn’t work,” Louis says easily. “No big deal. We tried.”

“What am I even supposed to take?” Liam demands.

“Whatever you want,” Louis answers. “Preferably not something that could get traced back to us, though. And nothing too heavy in case you need to make a quick getaway.”

Liam sighs and runs a hand over his short hair. He really doesn’t want to do this. He also really needs to learn how to say no to Louis with conviction, or one day his best friend is going to convince him that jumping off a bridge is a good idea, and Liam will likely do it.

At the other end of the hall a bright light shines for a brief moment and then goes out. That’s the all clear signal.

Liam goes to suck in a breath, but Louis pushes him forward without warning. Liam stumbles into the hall, shoes squeaking against the stone. He freezes, waits for someone to come out and catch him, but after a moment he realizes that’s not going to happen.

Liam slowly approaches the gargoyles blocking what he knows is a concealed door, only because he’s been in the headmaster’s office far too many times to count over the years. He’s also walked past the gargoyles hundreds of times, and while they appear to be completely lifeless stone, he knows that they’re not.

“Hungarian horntail,” Liam whispers, eyes darting around, worried that his quiet words will somehow wake up the entire castle.

For a moment nothing happens, but then one of the gargoyles moves out of the way, revealing a winding staircase. Liam chances a glance in Louis’ direction, only to find the other boy standing in the hall, swinging his hips with his hands above his head, cheerfully dancing. He doubts Louis would be celebrating if he were the one stuck doing this.

Liam steps onto the stairs, and the door is already slowly closing behind him, the stairs shifting under his feet. For a second he panics and entertains the thought of getting stuck in here until morning, when his headmaster comes into his office and finds him inside. That, for sure, would get him expelled. And he will kill Louis in a thousand different, creative ways, at least four of which will involve a can opener.

When he reaches the bottom of the staircase and is in the office, Liam’s worry starts to ebb away. He’ll be fine. He can do this. He isn’t a Gryffindor -- and Louis Tomlinson’s best mate-- for nothing. He’s brave, possibly to the point of stupidity like Zayn constantly points out, but still.

The room is one he’s familiar with. There’s the shelves lined with ancient books as well as the walls lined with the portraits of all the old headmaster’s and headmistresses’, most of which are awake and eying him sceptically.

“Lost, little Gryffindor?” one of them asks.

“The audacity or children these days,” another one adds. “How dare he.”

“I’m not a child,” Liam snaps, failing to ignore them. He’s seventeen years old, for Christ’s sake.

“You better have a good reason for being in here at this time of night,” one of them says. “A mighty load of trouble you’ll find yourself in if you get caught, son.”

“I’m aware,” Liam answers. He tries to tune them out after that so he can find something to nick and then get out of there.

There are so many things in the office. He figures he could spend weeks in here going through everything and he’d still have new things to discover, things that he couldn’t even imagine the uses for. It sort of reminds him of the way he’d felt when he’d first got his letter for Hogwarts, how shocked he’d been, how insane the whole thing had seemed. Even at that age Liam was practical and realistic, and magic did not fit into his neat, normal little world. Now it’s the biggest part of it, and he can’t say that he regrets a moment of it.

He’s about to reach for the quill on the large wooden desk when the sound of the stairs moving behind him has him turning around. “Louis,” he hisses, “what are you doing?”

The stairs stop moving and Louis doesn’t appear. In fact, no one does. “Not Louis,” says a voice directly to his left. Liam nearly shouts, but instead he bites down on his tongue to keep the sound in. “Though I did pass him in the hallway. He was dancing. It was quite entertaining.”

“Zayn,” Liam states.

“So you worked out that it was the password then,” Zayn says, and his voice comes from across the room now.

“What’s going on?” one of the portraits demands. Liam sort of wants an answer to that question too.

“Obviously,” Liam says. “Though I don’t see why you’d help me.”

Suddenly there’s a hand on his waist, and it moves over his stomach before disappearing completely. Liam shudders and turns, trying to figure out where he went, but he can’t until Zayn says, “I figured you’d never realize it on your own.”

“Isn’t it counterproductive to help me, though?” Liam asks, turning in the direction of his voice.

Without any warning -- which is really starting to irritate Liam, because he should be able to hear Zayn’s cloak moving, or his shoes padding against the floor, but he can’t-- a warm body is pressing against his back, guiding him forward, crowding him up against the desk. Liam sucks in a breath -- he refuses to call it a gasp, because it wasn’t-- and tries to turn, but Zayn’s reaching past him and grabbing the quill off the desk and then stepping away from him completely.

“This’ll work,” he says. It’s disconcerting because Zayn remains invisible, but the quill is still clearly there, floating in the middle of the room. “Might want to hurry up. Filch is doing rounds on this floor in ten minutes.”

Liam watches the pen as it seems to float across the room and then disappears up the stairs. He turns back to the desk when it’s out of sight, trying not to think about the way Zayn felt pressed up against him, and trying not to think about what that meant, because it just confuses him. Instead he focuses on finishing the task at hand, and settles for stealing a rolled up piece of blank parchment. He pockets it, casts one last look at the row of portraits, praying that none of them will rat him out to Headmaster Wilton, but he has a feeling they will anyways.

The moment Liam steps on the stairs they start moving again, retreating upwards. Liam moves with them, and the door at the top slides open. He doesn’t stick around long enough to watch the door close. He’s too busy jogging down the hall and turning the corner, running right into Louis.

“Thank God,” Louis says, steadying him. “I could have sworn I just saw a floating quill, and I thought that maybe--,”

“It was Zayn,” Liam answers. “Check the list.”

Louis nods and pulls the list out of his pocket. Both of them scan it until they find the one that Liam just completed. Beside it is two checkmarks, one green and one red. “So we’re tied,” Louis states. “Great.”

“If it weren’t for Zayn we never would have been able to check that one off in the first place,” Liam tells him, wondering why he sounds defensive.

“Mm, you’re right,” Louis agrees, rolling up the paper. He gives Liam a confused, wondering look. “Why would he tell you the password anyways?”

“Search me,” Liam says, shrugging. “Can we go back the common room now, before we get caught by Filch?”

“Yeah, sure,” Louis says, but he’s still looking at Liam with that undecipherable glint in his eyes.

“What?” Liam snaps.

Louis shakes his head. “Never mind,” he says. “Let’s go.”

Liam doesn’t even bother asking because he seriously doubts that he’d get a sane answer, if he’d get one at all.




They’re at breakfast the next morning when Louis pulls out the list to find Jinx a teacher when their back is turned with a green checkmark beside it. Louis growls something low in his throat and then turns in his seat to glare at Harry, who lifts a hand and waggles his fingers.

Zayn, on the other hand, is sitting with his fellow Ravenclaws, a book on the table in front of him and all of his attention on it. His hair is fluffed up around his head today, and Liam can’t help but wonder if it feels as soft as it looks. He wants to know if his fingers will get caught in the tangles, or if they’ll slide easily through it. He wants to know if Zayn will gasp into his mouth if he tugs hard enough, and he--,

“Earth to Liam,” Louis snaps. Literally. He snaps in front of Liam’s face, which is not only annoying but also fairly rude.

“What?” Liam demands, pulling his eyes away from Zayn.

“I need you to do me a favour,” he says.

Liam frowns. “What kind of favour?” he asks, because he really doesn’t fancy getting arrested this early in the morning.

Louis rolls his eyes. “I’m not going to ask you to commit murder, Liam, honestly. I’d do that myself, thanks. But I need your help with something that neither of us are capable of doing. And while I hate to ask you to do this, because I seriously do not trust that Ravenclaw at all, and I still stand by my statement that he’s got more scales than feathers, we need Malik’s help.”

“Wait, what?” Liam demands, eyes flicking to Zayn before they move back to Louis.

“Damn, your heart eyes are so obvious,” Louis tells him. “Anyways, tomorrow I’m going to be receiving a package. I need you to make sure that said package is delivered to Harry, and no one else but Zayn can do it. If we send it anonymously he’ll know it was us. I have a feeling he and the rest of the Slytherins will be on high alert for the next couple days.”

“What kind of package?” Liam asks warily.

“It’s just a simple love potion slipped inside a few sweets,” Louis says like it’s no big deal. “It’s not like it’s fatal. He’ll just make an ass of himself. It’s part of the list, Liam.”

Liam shakes his head. “I don’t think Zayn will go for it.”

“Of course he will,” Louis says firmly. “That boy would do whatever you asked.”

“He really wouldn’t,” Liam replies.

“Sure, sure,” Louis says. “Just ask him at least? Please?”

Liam sighs but nods. “Not making any promises, though.”

“You’re brilliant,” Louis says sincerely, reminding Liam of why he’s even friends with this maniac. Louis is overwhelming and overbearing, but at the end of the day Liam really wouldn’t trade him in for anyone. “But I’m off to the library. I’ve got to look up a spell that makes only clothes invisible. And before you ask, it’s for the list.”

Liam has a feeling that they’ll be doing a lot of crazy things in the next few weeks, each one of them justified because they’re ‘for the list’.




When he gets to potions class he slides into the seat beside Zayn, not just for Louis, but also because they have to start working on the potion they’d be taught how to make yesterday. Zayn is already prepared for it, cauldron out on the table, ingredients piled neatly around it.

“Don’t touch anything,” Zayn warns, not lifting his eyes from where he’s piling a few pieces of what looks like bloodroot, but might not be.

Liam sits down, careful not to let his legs bump into the table, lest he screw up Zayn’s organization. He’s about to ask if Zayn needs any help when the other boy walks away, heading for the supply closet. He returns with two ingredients that Liam can’t name by sight, but one of them smells rank and looks almost like intestines which, to be fair, is exactly what they might be.

“Right,” Zayn says after placing the ingredients on the table. “I’m going to need you to read the instructions off to me, slowly and one at a time as they’re listed, alright?”

Liam nods mutely and Zayn hands him a notebook that’s already opened to the right page. Zayn has sharp, slanted writing, but it’s easy enough to decipher. Much easier than, say, Louis, who likes to write as small as possible, all the letters smushed together.

“Heat cauldron to exactly 375 degrees,” Liam instructs, “after adding six drops of rose oil. Let rose oil--,”

Zayn lifts a hand, cutting him off. “One at a time,” he repeats.

Zayn locates the rose oil and carefully squeezes in six drops before he lifts his wand, quietly muttering a spell that has a small fire starting up under the cauldron. He uses a thermometer to check the temperature and then turns to Liam, giving him an expectant look.

“Um.” Liam’s eyes scan over the words. “Let oil heat for precisely six minutes before adding the bubotuber puss-- wait, seriously? That’s disgusting.”

Zayn ignores him, eyes darting to the clock at the front of the room. “So you got out alright last night?” Zayn asks, not moving his eyes from the clock.

“Yeah,” Liam admits. Grudgingly, he adds, “Thanks for the tip, by the way.”

Zayn shrugs and then says, “Don’t mention it. Like, seriously, don’t mention it. Harry would skin me alive if he knew I helped you.”

Liam grins. “Still can’t figure out why you would. But I was wondering if you’d like to do it again--,”

“Next step,” Zayn says, cutting him off. He’s reaching for the bubotuber puss-- Liam would throw up if he wasn’t used to this kind of thing by now-- and adding it to the pot.

“Stir three times counter clockwise,” Liam instructs. “And then tap the side of the cauldron twice with your wand.”

Zayn nods and does as he’s told. “Then what?”

“Wait four minutes before adding wormwood and aconite.”

Once again his eyes train on the clock. “Help you with what?” he asks.

“I need you to give Harry something,” Liam says slowly. “For the list. It’s not harmful, exactly, but Louis say that there’s no way he’ll take it unless it’s given to him by someone he trusts, and--,”

“Louis wants me to slip my best mate a love potion,” Zayn guesses. His eyes flick to Liam for a short moment and he looks both annoyed and vaguely amused. “Why would I do that?”

“I don’t know why you do any of the things that you do,” Liam replies. “I figured it was worth a try to ask, but I assumed you wouldn’t do it anyways.”

“I’ll do it,” Zayn says, reaching for the wormwood. “But you have to do something for me.”

“What’s that?” Liam wonders, because he knows that he couldn’t, in a million years, guess at what Zayn wants from him and actually get it right.

“It can’t be Louis,” Zayn specifies as he adds the aconite. “I don’t care who it makes Harry temporarily in love with, but it can’t be Louis.”

Liam cocks his head to the side. “Why not?”

“Next step,” Zayn asks.

Liam sighs, knowing that Zayn’s not going to answer that question. “Stir twice counter clockwise, once clockwise, and then let simmer for fourteen minutes until it turns a light bluish gray.”

Zayn brushes his hair off his forehead and then stirs the potion. The steam from is has his quiff falling flat, and his cheeks are flushed. He’s got an intense look on his face, the kind that Liam has seen on his face more than once. When he gets into his work, he really gets into it. Sometimes Louis questions why Zayn wasn’t just put into Slytherin, but it’s quite obvious, if you actually pay attention to him, why he was put in Ravenclaw. When he’s learning he gets a bright, focused look in his eyes, he chews his bottom lip incessantly, and it’s nearly impossible to distract him from it.

“Very good,” Madam Lovette says, peering down at Zayn’s cauldron. “You two work well together. You’ve surely made the most progress so far.”

Zayn’s lips quirk up just a bit before falling back into a straight line. Madam Lovette moves on, correcting a pair of Hufflepuff students who stirred clockwise instead of counter clockwise, turning their potion a dark, blood red.

The rest of the class is spent with Liam reading off instructions and Zayn acting them out. They finish their potion first, and Madam Lovette commends them on getting it perfect. Liam considers mentioning the fact that it was all Zayn, Liam really didn’t do anything, but Zayn beams at him when she says this, and he can’t bring himself to do it.

After class he passes Louis in the hallway and stops him, whispering in a rush, “Zayn said he’d do it as long as the person of Harry’s affection isn’t you.”

Louis looks as confused by this as Liam felt, but they don’t have time to discuss it because they have classes on the opposite side of the castle. Liam has Care of Magical Creatures, and Louis has Muggle Studies, which Liam has to help him with all the time.




Louis is going over the list during dinner when another checkmark appears on the page. They both look over to the Slytherin table to see Harry Styles standing on it, pants down. Liam averts his eyes and most people snicker, but a few people throw things at him. Louis groans loudly and then stands up, climbs onto the table, and unbuttons his pants quickly. A moment later the room erupts in cheers and Liam looks over to see Harry gaping while Louis quickly pulls his pants back up, a haughty look on his face, like he’s daring anyone to say something.

“Tomlinson! Styles!” Liam flinches at the tone in their headmaster’s voice. Louis’ eyes go wide and he mutters, “Shit.”

“It was for the list,” Liam says, grinning.

Now ,” Headmaster Wilton shouts.

Niall falls into Louis’ seat the second he walks off, leaving the list behind. “Perform one act of public nudity ’,” Niall reads.

Liam snorts and shakes his head. “This is getting out of hand.”

“This is just beginning,” Niall responds, frowning down at the page. “ ‘Consume an entire chicken in one sitting-- must be completed by one person only .’”

Liam raises his eyebrows. “Head down to the kitchen and see if we can find one?”

Niall grins. “Consider this one checked off.”

Liam returns the grin. “Ten galleons says I can do it faster than you.”

Niall’s eyes narrow. “You’re on.”




Louis doesn’t make it to Quidditch practise because he has detention for the next two nights due to the scene in the Great Hall. Liam feels bad for him, but then again what did he really expect? He’s just glad that he’s not the one with detention, because that wouldn’t be setting a very good example for the rest of their team mates.

Liam loves Quidditch. Of all the wondrous, impossible things in the magical world, flying is number one. Nothing can beat the way it feels to soar through the air, the wind whipping past you, nothing but endless expanses of sky. The weightless feeling of floating above the ground, and the way his stomach drops when he angles downwards. And then, of course, there’s the actual game. No muggle sport could ever compare. And Liam’s good , too. Winning is almost as good as flying, because there’s something wonderful about being surrounded by the cheers and shouts of hundreds of people, his name repeated over and over again like a chant.

Liam is modest but even he can admit that he wasn’t surprised when he was offered captaincy last year, and he’d led their team to victory, never losing a game, even though the game against Slytherin was fairly close. They only won because Louis is the greatest seeker, and even Harry can’t deny that.

Liam’s running drills, mostly just trying to get their beaters used to each other. Markus is a veteran. He’s been on the team for the last four years. Malarie is new, and she’s fairly good. The two of them don’t have the same chemistry that Markus and Ben had, though. Those two worked like two parts of one whole. They were always hyper aware of where the other way on the field, always teaming up together, and they were infinitely better than the beaters on any of the other teams.

He’s flying around, calling out corrections where he sees fit, when he spots Zayn in one of the bleachers. Liam knows it’s him instantly. No one else has quite the same hair or build, and even though his head is ducked and he’s a fair distance away, Liam’s positive it’s him.

Without thinking he turns and zooms towards the stands where Zayn is sitting. He’s bent over a book, occasionally scratching at the parchment with his quill. As he gets closer he can see the slight colour in Zayn’s cheeks, and the other boy looks up at him and then drops his gaze back to his book.

“Working or watching?” Liam asks, hovering a few inches from the stands. His stomach feels warm at the prospect of Zayn coming all the way out here just to watch his practise.

Zayn looks up at him and frowns. “I didn’t even know you had practise today. I just like to work outside.”

“Oh,” Liam says, trying not to let the disappointment colour his tone. “I thought you preferred the library.”

Zayn’s cheeks redden even more and he says, “Not always. I like a change of atmosphere, and there’s a group of third year Hufflepuffs in there. I couldn’t focus, so I came out here.”

“Just let me know if we get too loud and start distracting you,” Liam tells him. “Markus and Jordan get a little hyped up during practise.”

Zayn waves him off. “Don’t worry about it.”

“Okay,” Liam says, shrugging. He flies off before he can decide that watching Zayn do his work is more important than running practise. He can’t help but turn around halfway towards his team, though, only to find Zayn watching him. The second their eyes meet Zayn drops his gaze again.

“Someone’s got an admirer,” Carla teases. “An attractive one at that.”

“Who says he’s here for me?” Liam asks defensively. He has a feeling his cheeks are turning the same colour as Zayn’s had been.

“The fact that he’s only got eyes for one person,” Malarie puts in. “It’s not us he’s watching fly around the field. Maybe he has a thing for keepers. He is friends with Styles, after all.”

Liam glares at her. “Shouldn’t you and Markus be practising?”

Malarie winks at him before flying off, and Liam is regretting the decision to put her on the team. He definitely should have went with Julie. She wasn’t nearly as quick or as good, but she was quiet and polite, at least.




Liam is sitting on Louis’ left the next morning at breakfast when the owl swoops over their heads and drops a package onto the table in front of him. Liam’s grateful for it, because Louis has been in a shit mood since last night when he got back from his detention with Harry, and hopefully this will cheer him up a bit.

“Perfect,” Louis breathes, unwrapping the brown paper. “Hey, Cher!”

The girl in question, sitting beside Niall at the Hufflepuff table, looks over at them, raising her eyebrows. Louis waves her over and she rolls her eyes before getting up. Niall follows her, falling into the seat next to Liam a moment later.

“This the love potion?” Niall asks, reaching for the package on the table. It’s bright pink with a beautiful witch on the cover who keeps winking and simpering at them.

“What’re you doing with this?” Cher questions, grinning. “Need help getting a date, Tomlinson?”

“Not likely,” Louis says. “I need a piece of your hair, actually.”

Cher’s eyes narrow. “Who’re you using it on? I don’t want some creepy second year lusting after me all day, Louis.”

“Harry Styles,” Louis answers while ripping open the box. Inside is a pink potion in a bottle, as well as a box of chocolates, which he’s to fill with the potion after he finishes fixing it.

“Pranking the Slytherins again?” she asks, shaking her head. “You’re relentless, you know that?”

Louis grins. “Are you going to help or not?”

“Of course,” Cher answers easily.

Liam watches as she carefully pulls out one long brown strand of hair. Louis takes it from her and uncaps the lid on the potion. He drops the hair into it, and it fizzles and burns as soon as it touches the pink liquid, dissolving completely.

“Glad I could help,” Cher says, getting up.

“You’re a doll!” Louis calls after her.

“Yeah, yeah,” Cher says with a wave of her hand.

When she’s gone, Louis pulls open the box of chocolates and begins adding the potion to the candies. Several people look over at him curiously, but the Slytherin table is too far away for any of them to be able to see what Louis is doing.

Liam would feel sort of bad about this if it weren’t Harry, and if it weren’t for this stupid, ridiculous list that he’d concocted. They all knew what they were getting into when they agreed to it.

When he’s done, Louis hands the resealed box of chocolates to Liam. “Give these to Zayn.”

Liam nods and puts the box in the deep pocket of his robes.

“Think he’ll take it?” Niall asks.

Louis nods, a sinister grin on his face. “He will.”




It happens at lunch. Liam and Louis and Niall are sitting together, all on the same side of the table so that they can watch the Slytherins. Liam watches as Harry, who is sitting beside Zayn, takes a chocolate from the box. Zayn doesn’t seem to care at all that he’s helping them humiliate his best friend. He looks a bit bored, but not at all guilty.

It happens almost instantly. One moment Harry is chewing his third chocolate, and the next his eyes widen and he’s getting out of his seat. A few of his friends look up at him, confused, but Harry ignores them and moves towards Cher with single minded determination.

Cher is up and out of her seat in seconds, moving away from him. She comes over to their table and ducks behind Louis and Liam as Harry turns and starts in their direction. “You did this, now fix it,” she hisses.

“Cher!” Harry calls loudly. “I’ve never had the luck of laying my eyes on someone more beautiful or spectacular. I want to write poetry on your skin with nothing but my tongue.”

Cher straightens up and makes a face while a few people laugh. “Does that actually work for you?” she asks Harry, who’s on the other side of the table now, looking about ready to climb over top of it to get to her. His eyes are wide and dazed, and he clutches a hand to his heart.

“You’re even more beautiful the closer I get to you,” Harry sighs. “The minuscule space separating us feels like miles.”

Zayn appears behind him and he puts a hand on Harry’s waist. “Come on, let’s get you out of here.”

Harry shoves him off and says, “Don’t embarrass me in front of the love of my life. Cher, please, do you think we could--,”

Zayn covers Harry’s mouth with his hand and fixes Louis with a barely amused look. “Happy?”

Louis smiles brightly. “Extremely so,” he says, pulling the list out of his pocket. Liam looks over his shoulder, seeing the little red checkmark beside Use a love potion on someone from the opposing house .

Harry struggles as Zayn drags him away from the table, his eyes on Cher the entire time. He’s distracted enough to make it easy for Zayn, though, and soon enough they’re out the door with one last, “I love you!” for Cher from Harry.

“I would not want to be the object of that boys affection,” Cher grumbles. “I want to write poetry on your skin with my tongue . Who even says shit like that?”

“He does have a pretty mouth though,” Louis muses.

Liam turns to him, eyes wide. “Did you really just say that?” Niall asks.

Louis shrugs. “What? It’s true. I still want to punch him. Aesthetically speaking, he has fairly nice lips.”

“This is too weird for me,” Niall says, standing up. “You coming Cher?”

The girl nods and follows Niall back to their own table. When they’re gone, Liam takes the list from Louis and reads it over again.

“Got any ideas for anymore of these?” he asks Louis.

Louis nods and grins. “Hogsmeade this weekend,” he says. “We should be able to mark off at least one. If one of us can get a date and convince them to come to the Shrieking Shack, we can get another.”

“What one?” Liam asks, frowning down at the list.

“Steal a bottle of Fire Whiskey from The Three Broomsticks,” Louis answers with a grin. “And that will also lead to finishing another one, which is getting extremely wasted on the Quidditch pitch.”

“So we’re stealing now,” Liam says, passing the list back to Louis. “On top of getting expelled, we’re going to get arrested.”

Louis grins, unfazed by this.




When he gets to potions he heads straight for their table. Zayn’s not there yet, but he’s early so that’s not really surprising.

Liam spends the first two minutes in class just sitting there, drumming his fingers impatiently on his desk. He might be a little, tiny bit guilty about the Harry thing, and he’s kind of afraid to see how Zayn’s going to react. But Zayn walks in and comes straight over to their table (and since when is it their table?) and sits down.

“Hey,” Zayn says, setting up his stuff like he usually does. He’s a bit of a neat freak, Liam thinks.

“How’s Harry?” Liam blurts.

Zayn chuckles and shakes his head. “He’s fine. Going to kill Louis, but fine.”

“So you got the antidote for it, then?” Liam asks.

Zayn nods. “I may have made some up last night so I could get it to him quickly. Better to get him back to himself before he does something he really regrets. Good choice with Cher, though. I don’t think he really minded all that much.”

“Are you going to help him retaliate?” Liam questions.

Zayn laughs, loud and unabashedly. “Obviously.”

Liam pales. “He’s not going to slip it to any random Gryffindor, is he?”

Zayn shakes his head, no. “Between the two of us, though,” he says quietly, turning serious, “don’t take anything from anyone for the time being.”

Liam frowns. “Why me? Why not Louis?”

“I never said it was definitely going to be you,” Zayn says with a shrug. “Just letting you know to be careful.”

Why? Liam thinks. Instead he says, “Okay.”

Zayn shrugs again and turns his attention to their teacher, his shoulder turned a bit, like a wall between them, letting Liam know that he’s not to bother him again. He doesn’t.

At the end of class they both pack up their things, but instead of heading straight for the door, Zayn lingers back a bit while Liam finishes cleaning up.

“You going to Hogsmeade this weekend?” he asks.

Liam nods. “Louis wants to cross a few things off the list.”

“Yeah, that’s what I figured,” Zayn says. He taps his fingers on the back of his chair and then ducks his head a bit. “If we went on a date to the Shrieking Shack we could check that one off for both of our teams.”

Liam drops his notebook on the floor and bends down to pick it up to hide what he knows is a blush in his cheeks. “You want me to go on a date with you,” Liam clarifies when he stands up.

Zayn shrugs once more. “For the list, obviously.”

“What would a date to the shrieking shack entail, exactly?” Liam wonders, raising his eyebrows.

Zayn grins. “So you’re saying yes then?”

“I’m saying maybe.”

“You’ll have to come to find out,” Zayn answers.

Liam sighs. “Okay. Though I really don’t see how one of our houses is going to win if you keep helping both.”

Zayn ignores him. “See you Saturday, Liam.”

Liam goes to point out that they’ll see each other in class tomorrow, but Zayn is already walking away from him, heading for the door. He leaves without another glance back to Liam, which is probably a good thing because Liam figures he looks like he was just hit by a train.




Liam doesn’t get to his last class of the day. He’s halfway there, trudging down the hallway behind a pair of Ravenclaw girls that are talking about Zayn (and Liam’s not eavesdropping, he’s really not, except they’re talking quite loud, and they’re going on about the amount of tattoos he has, and he can’t really help it) when Louis runs into his side, catching him off guard and knocking the wind out of him.

Liam lets out a surprised noise and the girls in front of him turn, eyebrows raised, but then keep walking when they realize, “It’s just Tomlinson and Payne,” which is said with a roll of the one girl’s eyes.

“You’re not going to Care of Magical Creatures,” Louis informs him, grabbing Liam’s arm tightly. He starts tugging him down the hall in the opposite direction before he begins to explain. “I was sitting in class, looking over the list, when a checkmark appeared.”

“Beside what?” Liam asks, frowning.

“Beside ‘acquire a beloved item belonging to any member of the opposing team who has managed to earn a checkmark ’.”

Liam gapes at him. “It specifies that it has to be from someone who’s completed one of the tasks?”

Louis nods vigorously. “That’s either you or me, babe.”

And then they’re both running down the hall, ignoring the Divination teacher that they run past on their way, who warns them to slow down and start to make their way towards their class. They take the stairs two at a time, and Louis is out of breath but Liam’s still going strong, even though his legs are aching just a bit because he hates stairs, no matter how in shape he is.

Liam is about to shout the password at the Fat Lady when they get to her portrait, but Louis puts a hand on his shoulder, stopping him, and asks, “What students have you let in in the past half an hour?” Louis demands.

The Fat Lady narrows her eyes. “I’m not going to answer questions that are barked at me. Come back when you’ve acquired some manners and perhaps I’ll consider changing my mind.”

“Please, miss,” Liam tries, shoving Louis out of the way. Adults hate Louis, but they tend to love Liam. “It’s just that, you see, we know you’re so excellent at blocking the common room, and we’d never accuse you of slacking on your duties, because you do them so well , but we have reason to believe that someone from another house--,”

“The Styles boy,” the Fat Lady says, cutting him off. She smiles wistfully. “He and that pretty thing, what’s her name? Leanne? They were in here not too long ago. Stumbled through the door attached at the lips. I wouldn’t have let him in, mind, if he hadn’t been such a sweetheart, and she seems to be incredibly besotted with him, and I figured that, just this once--,”

“No,” Louis says, eyes wide. “You didn’t.”

“I did, actually,” the Fat Lady says, lifting her chin defiantly. “Young love is in the air. Not that I’d expect you to know about that. I doubt any respectable young lady would give you the time of day.”

Louis growls at her, teeth barred.

“Gillyweed,” Liam says quietly, dread filling his stomach. He doesn’t know what they would take. He doesn’t have many beloved possessions, but the ones that he does have mean a lot to him, like the photograph of him and his family, or the souvenir from the Quidditch World Cup that he’d went to with Niall and his parents.

They push into the common room just as the Fat Lady calls, “And shouldn’t you two be in class?!”

“I’ll kill him,” Louis says darkly as they rush towards the stairs leading to their room. “I’ll skin him alive and sell his flesh to the groundskeeper to feed the thestrals, I swear .”

The moment they step into their room it’s obvious that someone’s been in there. Louis’ side is perfectly fine, but Liam’s is not. The covers on his bed are pulled back, and the drawers of his bedside table are gaping open. The chest at the end of the bed is wide open, too, and it’s obvious that Harry wanted them to know exactly who he fucked with.

“Shit,” Liam breathes, moving towards his bed. “I’ve got to figure out what he took.”

“It had to be something that meant something to you,” Louis reminds him, already fixing Liam’s bed for him as Liam riffles through his chest. There’s nothing missing from it, that he can tell at least. Nothing that would mean something to him.

He shuts the chest after carefully rearranging the items inside, because it looked like Harry had just pushed everything around to make a mess while searching for something. He heads over to the bedside table, spots his framed picture, and sighs in relief. After he’s went through those drawers, too, he finds nothing missing.

“I’ll check the dresser,” Liam says, though his dresser has very obviously been left untouched. Everything is perfectly folded in the way he’d left it this morning.

Louis has a frown on his face, and he’s moving slowly towards his own bed. He kneels down and reaches under it, pulling out a box that Liam’s seen only a couple of times. There is only a handful of things inside it, Liam knows. Louis’ favourite, most memorable belongings. There’s the drawing from one of his youngest sisters, as well as the tickets to movie they’d went to see last summer (Louis’ first time at a cinema, and he’d dragged Liam back four times in the week he’d spent at Liam’s house). There’s also the watch from his dad that has been handed down through his family for years, and Louis’ autographed Jorgan Bilbourne snitch.

“It’s gone,” Louis says quietly, shutting the box. “The snitch I caught during my first game. It’s gone. Your side of the room was only a mess as a distraction. He didn’t want us to know what he took, so he made it look like he took something from you.”

Liam sinks down onto his bed and says, very carefully, “We’ll get it back, Louis, it will be fine .”

“Oh, it will be,” Louis says, straightening up. There’s a fire in his eyes. “I’m going to fucking murder him.”

Liam stands up because Louis is heading for the door, and he’s not exactly sure whether or not Louis is serious. Louis doesn’t slow down. He moves down the stairs and through the common room with long, quick strides, and pushes open the door without waiting for Liam, who has to jog to keep up with him.

“Curly haired fucking bastard,” Louis mutters. “I’ll shave his head and choke him with the hair. I’ll shove my foot so far up his ass he’ll be spitting out my socks.”

“Are you even wearing socks right now?” Liam asks.

Louis tosses him a look that would burn him alive, if that were possible. “That’s really besides the point, Liam.”

“You do realize he’s in class, right?” Liam reminds him as they turn down the hall that leads to the Great Hall.

“I’ll wait outside for him,” Louis replies. “He’s in Herbology.”

Liam bites his lip to stop from asking why Louis knows Harry’s schedule, because Louis has his wand out and it’s sparking at the tip, and Liam really doesn’t want to be on the receiving end of any spell that may come out of it in the next hour or so. Instead he turns and starts in the opposite direction, heading back the way they came. He heads for the second floor, not stopping until he gets to the Arithmancy classroom. He stops and knocks lightly on the door, rocking back on his heels.

“Mr. Payne,” the Arithmacy teacher, Madam Bantlam, says with a raise of her thin red eyebrows. “Is there something I can help you with?”

Liam tries to grin at her in a reassuring, believable way. “Um. I’m here for Zayn-- Zayn Malik. Headmaster Wilton needs a student to run an errand for him, and since Zayn’s a prefect--,”

“Malik,” Bantlam calls.

A moment later Zayn appears at the door, a frown on his face. He meets Liam’s eyes and the frown slips away into a look of annoyance and disbelief. “Yes, ma’am?”

“Headmaster Wilton apparently needs you,” she says, putting a hand on his shoulder. “If you can, come back before class ends. If not I’ll have Jessica bring you your homework.”

“Thank you,” Zayn says, stepping out of the room. The door closes between them and Zayn grabs Liam’s arm roughly, much like Louis had, and starts tugging him down the hall while hissing, “Are you serious right now? I was in the middle of class .”

Liam gives him an apologetic look and yanks his arm from Zayn’s grip. “I know, and I honestly wouldn’t bother you under normal circumstances, but Louis--,”

“I mean, just because I come to your rescue a few times does not mean that you can just pull me out of class to fix your problems, Gryffindor,” Zayn spits, and Liam is just now realizing that he’s actually, truly angry. “Unlike you, I actually care about my grades and graduating.”

Liam stops and gapes at him. “You think I don’t care?”

Zayn whirls to face him, shoving his hands deep into he pockets of his robes. His cheeks are an angry shade of red and his shoulders are tensed. “It’s not as if you act like you care about anything other than fucking around with Tomlinson and Horan.”

Liam took a step back, nearly stumbling. He wants to say something defensive, but instead anger bubbles up inside of him. “I was only coming to get you because your prick of a best friend stole something of Louis’, and Louis is possibly going to actually kill him for it, and I thought that you might want to get it back from him before Louis gets a chance to murder him, but never mind. Forget about it. It’s not your problem and I never should have even considered asking you for help, and I definitely won’t in the future.”

Anger, annoyance and regret flicker through Zayn’s eyes before he lets out a frustrated sound and turns on the spot. Much like with Louis, Liam is left to either stay behind or jog after him. So, really, he doesn’t have any choice.

Zayn doesn’t speak to him at all during the walk through the castle and out the doors. The late November air is brisk and harsh, and Liam pulls his robes in closer to his neck and ducks his head a bit. Zayn seems completely unfazed, his anger apparently keeping him warm as he stomps over the ground towards the greenhouse.

Louis is pacing outside the doors of the greenhouse, wand held tightly in his fingers. He doesn’t even question Zayn’s presence, he just keeps pacing, muttering to himself about all the creative ways in which he could kill Harry. Zayn ignores him too, opting to just pull open the doors to the greenhouse and walk in.

Liam can see him through the window, first talking to the teacher, then going over to Harry. Harry grins and nods, but when Zayn’s expression remains stony he looks a little defensive, and then he sighs and hands something to Zayn, who takes it and comes back towards the door.

“Here,” Zayn says, shoving the snitch against Liam’s chest. “I’m serious this time when I say never again , Payne. Understood? If you four idiots would rather play around while you’re supposed to be in class, fine, but don’t you dare drag me into it.”

Zayn turns and walks briskly towards the castle, leaving Liam to stare after him, gut twisting for some reason.

He and Zayn have never had the best relationship. Zayn is always teasing him, or snapping at him, except on the rare occasion that he smiles fondly at Liam, but he’s never had Zayn truly, genuinely mad at him. And honestly, he’s not all that surprised. He should have realized that Zayn would be upset at him for this. Zayn takes his studies more seriously than anyone Liam’s ever met.

“What the fuck was that about?” Louis demands, finally stopping his pacing.

Liam holds out his hand, uncurling his fingers from around the snitch. Louis’ eyes widen and he grins, taking it. “Loverboy will do anything for you, won’t he?”

Liam shakes his head. “Not anymore, apparently.”




Louis’ happiness at having his snitch back is short lived, and by the time dinner is over he’s on the warpath again, but Liam doesn’t have to deal with it because Louis has detention.

He doesn’t see Zayn again that night. He’s not in the Great Hall at dinner, and Harry glares at him when he catches Liam checking the Ravenclaw table.

He considers asking one of Zayn’s housemates to check their common room for him but decides that it’s not a good idea. If Zayn wanted to see him he’d make himself available, and he is obviously doing the exact opposite.

Instead he waits until lunch the next day and asks for Niall’s help. Niall grins and waggles his eyebrows but Liam denies any claims that he’s doing this because he’s interested in Zayn. He’s doing it because he owes Zayn for a lot, so many things over the years that he can’t even count. For the time that Zayn covered for Liam in their third year when he missed a really, really important Herbology class. For that time in second year when Zayn had used the counterspell after one of the Slytherins turned his skin a sickly green. For that time in fourth year when he nearly fell from the sky at a Quidditch game. For so, so many things.

He’s a little late to Potions, and when he sinks into the seat next to Zayn, Zayn sneers at him and pointedly doesn’t look away from the front of the room. Liam slides a small, wrapped package in front of him. Zayn’s eyes drop to it and then quickly return to the front of the room. Liam waits, knows he’s going to crack, and he does a moment later.

“What is this?” he asks, turning to Liam with a frown.

Liam shrugs. “Unwrap it and find out.”

Zayn looks more than a little wary, and a bit like he’s considering getting up and throwing it in the trash without even looking at it, but he obeys, long, thin fingers quickly tugging open the wrapping.

“Cauldron cakes,” Zayn states, staring at the three chocolate cakes in front of him.

“You always eat about fifteen of them at the feasts,” Liam explains. “I figured you must really like them, so…”

Zayn’s eyes narrow as he picks up one of the small cakes, but the moment he bites into it his eyes flutter closed, eyelashes appearing impossibly long as they brush the tops of his cheeks. “I want to be angry with you,” Zayn says after swallowing. His eyes are still closed. “But you make it really, really freaking hard, with those stupid eyes and bringing me cakes and shit.”

“Does this mean I’m forgiven?” Liam asks, grinning.

Zayn opens his eyes. They’re still slightly guarded, but a bit warmer than they were. “Maybe.”

“Can I have a cake?”


Liam pouts a little. “You have three.”

“And I’m going to eat all three,” Zayn says, popping the second half of the first one in his mouth. His lip quirks up a bit, like he’s trying to suppress a smile but can’t quite do it. Liam takes it as a victory.




Louis is out of detention by Friday, and they have another Quidditch practise. Liam’s scheduling them closer together because they have a game next Friday against Slytherin, and they really can’t afford to lose.

It isn’t until they’re in the air, Liam dropping things like the keys for the storage shed and the change in his pocket for Louis to dive forward and catch, that he tells Louis about the sort-of-not-really date he has with Zayn the next day.

“So is it specifically for the list, or is it a date?” Louis asks, letting the keys fall to the ground without even attempting to dive after them.

Liam watches the sun glint off the metal as the keys hit the ground far, far below. “The list, definitely.”

Louis raises his eyebrows. “Are you sure?”


“Do you want it to be an actual date?”

Liam frowns at him, stomach twisting. “Why would I want it to be an actual date?” he asks, knowing that Louis can hear the defensive note in his voice as much as he can.

Louis smirks. “Years of sexual tension, babe,” Louis tells him. “It’s all gotta to come to a head at some point. I figure that you’ll either end up fucking or attacking each other. Or both, possibly.”

Liam’s eyes go out of focus as he pictures what it’d be like to press his body up against Zayn, both of them without the robes or pants or jumpers. With their skin slicked with sweat and their cheeks flushed, and Zayn’s hair a mess from Liam running his hands through it. And his mind just runs with it, trying to guess what sounds Zayn would make when Liam pushed into him, or wrapped his lips around his--,

“Jesus Christ,” Louis chokes out, covering his mouth with a laugh. “You honestly want to hook up with him.”

Liam glares at him. He doesn’t. He really doesn’t. Except Zayn is sort of incredibly attractive, and Liam isn’t exactly straight. But they would never work like that. Zayn barely tolerates Liam on a good day, and Liam doesn’t exactly have a set type, but everyone he’s dated has coincidentally been on the Quidditch team, from Melanie in third year on the Hufflepuff team, to Jonah from Gryffindor who he’d lost his virginity to, but who had graduated at the end of last year. And Zayn really doesn’t fit that mould at all, because Zayn prefers to spend his time in the library, hunched over a book, and he only attends games if Ravenclaw is playing because he has no choice but to support his house.

“Just get the keys,” Liam grumbles.

Louis drops to the ground at an alarming speed. It was something that used to make Liam nervous, but Louis is good at what he does and he pulls up at the last second, right before he’d splatter himself on the ground, and somehow manages to scoop up the keys while he does it. He’s back at Liam’s side in a matter of seconds.

“So are you finally admitting to yourself what we’ve all known for years?” Louis asks, tossing the keys to him. “Or are you going to keep pretending that you’re not totally in love with him?”

Liam flies off and uses the excuse of instructing his two chasers to keep Louis from pestering him about it again. Liam is not in love with Zayn. He doesn’t even like him. And he really, really, really needs a new best friend. He’s going to hold auditions or something. He hates Louis.




Saturday morning brings the first snowfall of the year. It’s nothing heavy. Just a few flat, wet flakes drifting lazily from the sky. Not enough to coat the grounds, just enough to fill the sky with the swirling white crystals.

Personally, Liam loves the snow. He loves the way the castle looks coated in a layer of white. Loves the way that it never really gets dark in the winter, the snow reflecting any and all possible light. He honestly can’t wait.

“Fucking gross,” Louis groans, peering out the window. “Snow .”

Liam grins at him. “Does this mean you’re not coming today?”

“No, I am,” Louis says, pushing away from the window.

Markus is still asleep in his bed, and Ben had left a few minutes ago for breakfast. Liam woke up much earlier this morning and went down to the prefects bathroom. As captain of the Quidditch team, Liam gets a few special privileges, the prefects bathroom included. Sometimes, after a good game, while every one else was celebrating and partying in the common room, Liam would head down there and fill the impossibly large tub with his favourite citrus smelling soap and relax.

Liam searches through his drawers, trying to find something warm and comfortable to wear that isn’t part of the school uniform.

“So are you walking there with him or meeting him later?” Louis asks, coming up behind him. He tugs a red sweater out of Liam’s dresser and holds it up to Liam’s chest. “Red is definitely your colour. Go with this one.”

“Thanks,” Liam says, pulling it on over top of the white undershirt he’s wearing. “And he just told me to meet him at the fence to the shack at three.”

“Niall’s not coming with us,” Louis informs him as he leans against Liam’s dresser.

“Why not?” Liam asks, frowning. The three of them always go to Hogsmeade together. Niall brings them to the Hog’s Head because his dad is friendly with the inn keeper, and he sneaks them pints of disgustingly warm beer whenever they go in. And then they spend the rest of the trip stumbling through the small village, Liam mostly guiding the other two because he always stops after one drink, and Louis and Niall both go well into three or four.

Louis grins at him. “I may have acquired the Slytherin password,” Louis admits. “And I have it on good authority that Styles will be in the village today, so Niall will be free to sneak in, steal something of his, and then we’ll have that one checked off the list as well.”

Liam’s frown deepens. “Are you sure that’s a good idea? You were pretty upset when he did it to you.” Upset being an understatement, because Louis had been ready to commit cold blooded murder.

“Payback’s a bitch and so am I,” Louis says cheerfully.

Liam rolls his eyes and adjusts his sweater. “This looks okay?”

Louis smirks. “Why, looking to impress Malik?”

“Fuck off,” Liam mutters, turning away from him. He grabs his change purse from his sock drawer and then puts his wand in his back pocket. “Are we going or are you going to sit here and whine about Harry and pay too much attention to my non-existent love life?”

“If you’re the one with the non-existent love life, explain to me why you’re going on a date while I steal a bottle of alcohol so I can drink it to drown out my lonely sorrows?”

Liam crosses his arms over his chest and doesn’t deem that worthy of a response.

“I am not overly dramatic,” Louis states.

“Never said you were,” Liam points out.

“Your accusatory eyebrows did.”

“Will you two honestly shut the fuck up?” Markus shouts.

Louis narrows his eyes and points his wand at Markus’s bed. A moment later his blanket is floating above him, twisting and turning in the air. Louis runs from the room before Markus can retaliate, and Liam jogs after him, stopping only long enough to call a “Sorry!” over his shoulder.

They make their way down to the Great Hall together. There is only a handful of people inside. Most have already left for Hogsmeade or are still in bed. Liam doesn’t mind because this means he gets to eat in a more relaxed, quiet environment, even if he’s eating breakfast with Louis. Louis is in his own world anyways, quietly pushing around food on his plate and waving off Liam’s concerns when he asks if something is bothering him.

By the time they arrive in Hogsmeade it’s a bit past noon. The snow is still drifting down from the gray skies, and Louis is shaking it out of his hair with an annoyed look on his face.

“Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes first?” Louis asks, nodding towards the shop with the colourful storefront. Students are moving in and out of the shop, the latter with arms filled with bags that are stuffed with purchases from the shop.

Liam shrugs. “Sure.”

The moment they move into the shop, they’re surrounded by the noises of various shoppers, as well as the honks, shouts, bubbling, shrieking, laughing, sobbing sounds of the numerous items lining he shelves. When Liam had first visited this place, he’d been blown away. The wizarding world is so different from that of the one he’d spent the first eleven years of his life in, and even now it’s a bit overwhelming. He’s used to this place, though, knows that Louis will guide him straight through the shop and into the backroom, where only the employees and special costumers are allowed.

Louis worked at their Diagon Alley branch for a few weeks during the last two summers. It was a good fit for him, Liam had thought. He got an employee discount, and he loved the place enough that, if they’d let him, he figures Louis would live there.

“Joseph,” Louis says brightly when they get to the front counter. “Got anything for me?”

Joseph, dressed in his Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes uniforms, grins at him. “I do, yeah. I’ve got to man the register, though. Just head into the back and don’t touch anything that’s marked ‘unsafe until further notice’.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it,” Louis lies, already ducking behind the black curtain that separates the back room from the front. Liam follows him, eying the numerous inventions on the shelf.

“Invisitoffee,” Louis says, reaching for a box of candies. “One bite will turn user invisible for a short, quarter of an hour time period. Side effects may vary, but include vomiting, loss of sight, speaking in tongues, and a severe rash'. No wonder they’re on the ‘unsafe until further notice’ shelf.” He pockets a box of them anyways.

Liam reaches for a box on one of the safe shelves labelled ‘Get it done chocolates’. “For those 3 page essays that you put off until the last minute, Get It Done Chocolates will have you up and focused all night long. Warning: a maximum of three doses are recommended. No more than one box should be consumed within a seventy-two hour period.

“Grab those,” Louis orders. “We’ve got before holiday tests coming up shortly. They could really come in handy.”

Liam nods and keeps the box in his hands as they move around the room. By the time they’re done they’ve both got far too many boxes and bags in their hands for them to afford. Louis sorts through them, putting back anything that he deems not worthy, and then they use his employee (even though he’s technically an ex-employee, Joseph lets him get away with it) discount to afford the rest of it.

“Remind me to beg my mum to send me more money later,” Louis says as they walk out the doors.

Liam’s only got a bit of his own left, just enough to get something to eat and drink at the Three Broomsticks. He wonders if he should save it just in case Zayn decides he wants to do something more than just go to the Shrieking Shack, but then decides that it’s better to spend it so that he has an excuse not to if he does end up suggesting more. Louis is wrong about Liam liking him, and he doesn’t want to give Louis any more reason to tease him about this. Going on a date to Madame Puddifoot’s Tea Shop would earn him at least a week’s worth of ridicule.

When they get inside the Three Broomsticks, it’s nearly packed with other students. Liam spots Cher and Josh, as well as Corbin and Willow sitting at a table with two empty seats and nods his head towards them. Louis nods back and makes his way to their table, pushing past other people, shoving chairs in closer to tables so he can squeeze between them, before falling into one of the free seats beside Cher. The others welcome him easily as Liam heads for the counter and orders them both a butterbeer.

Liam carries their two drinks over to the table and sits down on Louis’ left. The moment he slides the drink over to him, Louis says, “You’ve got about half an hour until you have to meet your boy.”

Liam groans and slaps Louis on the back of the head just as Josh asks, “What boy?”

Cher smirks. “Are you and Malik finally admitting your love for each other?”

Liam sips his butterbeer and ignores them.

By the time he’s finished his first (and second drink, which Louis paid for as a way of apologizing), he’s got about ten minutes before he’s supposed to meet Zayn. He pushes away from the table, ignoring the cooing noises Cher’s making and the wink that Louis throws his way as he weaves through the tables, heading for the door.

It’s a bit colder outside this time, a striking contrast from the warmth of the Three Broomsticks. The snow is falling heavier now, and he thinks that maybe it actually will stay this time, because there’s a thin coating of snow covering the ground now and it’s not melting instantly like it had been before.

Liam ducks his head and follows the familiar path to the Shrieking Shack. He passes by other students who are running for the shops to avoid the cold, cheeks flushed and hair mused, hardly any of them dressed for the weather because today’s snowfall had been a bit of a surprise.

When he turns onto the road that ends in the shack, he figured he’d see Zayn leaning against the fence, waiting for him. He’s not there.

Liam frowns and looks around, and then approaches the fence. He leans against it and waits, figuring Zayn’s just running a bit late.

The snow continues to fall, and his ears are freezing. He wishes he’d of worn something warmer because he’s almost shivering, his hands turning red. He buries them in his pockets and ducks his head so the snow doesn’t get in his eyes.

After about twenty minutes Liam turns and looks at the shack. Maybe Zayn’s waiting inside for him, he realizes. Had he said to just go straight inside? Liam can’t remember, so he makes his way towards the building and hesitates on the steps. While Liam isn’t easily afraid, there’s only a handful of students who have stepped foot inside the shack in years, and they’ve all had horrific (though probably exaggerated) stories about what happened inside.

Liam sucks it up and pushes open the door. He steps foot inside, looking around. He’s in a large room that Liam figures served as the living room. There’s an old, destroyed couch against the left wall, and other various pieces of wood from broken furniture scattered around the room. Dust coats every inch of the place and Liam sneezes as he looks around, taking in the boarded up windows, letting barely any light filter through from outside.

“Zayn?” Liam calls tentatively, though he really doesn’t have to. It’s obvious that no one’s been inside here for months at least . Zayn is definitely not inside.

Liam heads back outside, pulling the door closed behind himself, and makes his way back to the fence. He waits for another twenty minutes and then gives up; Zayn is obviously not coming. He wonders if something came up, or if this whole thing was maybe just a big joke and Liam was the butt of it.

At least Louis is still inside when he gets back to the Three Broomsticks. He heads for their table when the bell above the door rings, and Liam turns, watching as Harry and a few other Slytherins walk inside, cheeks red from the cold.

Without even thinking, Liam starts towards them. Harry meets his eyes and pauses on his way to the counter, and Liam doesn’t stop until he’s in front of him.

“Have you seen Zayn?” he asks.

Harry gives him a weary look. “Why?”

“We-- we were supposed to meet up at three, but he wasn’t where he told me he would be,” Liam admits, feeling extremely stupid. Harry probably had no idea what he was talking about.

“Oh!” Harry says, realization dawning on his face. He grins at Liam and says, “Something came up, I think. Which is probably a good thing, because I don’t think it’s a good idea, the two of you dating while we’re still trying to complete the list.”

Liam feels disappointment bubble up inside of him but he pushes it down. “We aren’t dating. We were only doing it to so we could check it off the list.”

“Is that what he said?” Harry asks, eyebrows drawing together. He pushes his hair off his forehead, slightly slicked from melted snow. “I thought-- never mind. Good. That’s good.”

Liam nods mutely and goes to head back to his table with Louis, but at the last minute he turns back around and asks, “Did he say why he couldn’t make it?”

Harry, who was heading for the counter, shrugs and says, “I think he made plans with one of his housemates. He didn’t really give me details.”

“Right,” Liam says quietly. “Thanks.”

Harry continues on towards the front counter, and Liam moves back through the room and sinks down into the seat next to Louis, who looks over at him, confused. “Aren’t you supposed to be on a date with Zayn?”

Liam shrugs like he really doesn’t care, because he doesn’t. If it wasn’t something that was important to Zayn, then it isn’t something that’s important to Liam. “Something came up, apparently.”

“Oh,” Louis says, giving him a sympathetic look.

“Poor thing,” Cher adds, putting a hand on his thigh.

Liam glares at them both. “You do realize that I don’t care, right? It was just for the list. It’s not like it was an actual date.”

“Sure it wasn’t,” Louis says patronisingly.

“Whatever,” Liam says, waving him off. “Can we head back to the castle now?”

“One second,” Louis says, digging around in his pockets. “I don’t want to head back until I know Niall’s completed his task. I want to keep an eye on Styles until then.”

Liam rolls his eyes and waits for Louis to scan the list. He stops abruptly and shoves it in Liam’s face, finger pointing to number 27. Ask someone on a date and then stand them up . There’s a green checkmark beside it.

“You know what,” Liam says, tugging the list from Louis’ hand, “I genuinely thought he was trying to help us, but if that’s how he wants to play it, game on.”

“Game on,” Louis repeats. “Hey, Styles!”

Liam turns to see Harry, two butterbeers in his hand, frowning at them. “What?”

“Go fuck yourself,” Louis says brightly.

Harry flips him off. Liam turns back around and settles into his seat, wondering why he feels betrayed by this whole thing. Did Zayn really just ask him out so he could stand him up? Would he actually do that? Probably, and that’s enough for Liam to be done with asking him for help, or allowing him to offer it. They’re on enemy teams now, and Liam’s going to start acting like it.

“This is good, actually,” Louis says suddenly, pulling Liam out of his thoughts. “You can help me nick that bottle of Fire Whiskey.”

Honestly, Liam doesn’t want to get in trouble, but he figures that even if they did get caught, Louis could find a way to spin it so they wouldn’t get in trouble. “Yeah, alright.”

“Great,” Louis says, leaning forward. “Okay, so here’s the plan. You’re going to go up to the barmaid and distract her, and I’m going to use one of those Invisitoffees, sneak behind the counter, and steal the bottle. When I’ve got it I’ll tap you on the back twice, and then we head back to the castle.”

“Weren’t those toffees labelled as unsafe?” Liam asks warily.

Louis shrugs. “What’s the worst that could happen?”

Liam really, really hates when Louis asks that question. Before Liam can give him a hundred different answers, Louis is out of his seat, gesturing for Liam to do the same. Cher and Josh are watching them with an amused look on their faces, but neither of them bother to warn them not to do it. Liam’s not sure if that’s a mark of their friendship or a mark against it.

Liam gets out of his seat and heads for the counter. The barmaid, a woman in her early thirties with unruly red hair and a bright smile, greets him with a friendly, “Another butter’er, dear?”

Liam shakes his head and coughs. “I--,” he coughs again, “was wondering what you put in your drinks. I think I might be allergic.”

The woman’s eyes go wide and Liam watches as the short swinging door of the bar opens and closes with no one touching it. “Oh my,” the woman says, reaching out to tip up Liam’s chin. “Are you breaking out in hives? Do you feel sick to your stomach? Any body parts swelling?”

Liam shakes his head. “Just a sore throat,” he says, hoping he’s being convincing. Louis is a far better actor than he is, and Liam always feel really guilty about lying.

“Hm,” the barmaid says. “I don’t know what could cause that sort of reaction. I’ve never had someone get sick off my butter’er before.”

Liam coughs again and says, “I’ve never had issues with it before, either. This is the first time.”

“You know what, I think I might know what that’s from,” she says suddenly, straightening up. “I recently started adding nutmeg to the brew. A few people liked the subtle flavour. Do you have a nutmeg allergy by any chance?”

Liam watches as a bottle of Fire Whiskey suddenly lifts off the shelf and then, a moment later, disappears entirely, probably in the fold of Louis’ robes. “I think that might be it,” Liam tells her.

“I’ll fix you up something right quick, dear,” the barmaid tells him. “You sit here and I’ll be right back.”

Liam’s eyes dart to the small door again, but thankfully it doesn’t move until the barmaid is too busy dumping a bunch of things in a cup. He feels someone tap the back of his neck twice, and he whispers, “Give me two minutes.”

“I’ll be out front,” Louis says from his left.

Liam nods and waits for the barmaid to return. When she does it’s with a foaming, steaming glass of grey liquid that smells faintly like phosphorous. Liam grimaces but takes it and sips it down, even though it makes him want to retch.

“That better?” the red haired woman asks, looking genuinely concerned.

Liam forces himself to swallow the last sip. “Loads.”

By the time Liam gets out front, Louis isn’t there. Liam frowns and wonders if Louis is still invisible, but then he hears the sound of someone throwing up, and he follows it around the corner to where Louis is bent over at the waist, vomiting into the snow. The box of toffees is laying a few feet from him and Liam walks over to it and picks it up.

May cause vomiting ,” he reads. Louis stops heaving only long enough to glare at him.




They don’t meet up with Niall until dinner. He jumps into the seat next to Louis and tosses something at him, lips spread in a wide grin. “Easy as hell,” he says, reaching for a bowl of mashed potatoes.

Louis picks up the thing that Niall had thrown at him, which turns out to be a bracelet. It’s well worn, threads fraying at the edges. Louis returns Niall’s grin and holds onto the bracelet while checking the list. “It’s checked off,” he says.

Liam’s eyes move to the Ravenclaw table. Zayn is staring at him, chewing his lip. He doesn’t drop his gaze when he realizes Liam can see him staring, but instead he awkwardly sort of lifts his hand and then lets it fall as some girl beside him tries to get his attention.

“Give me that,” Liam says, holding out his hand. Louis is too busy with the list, so Liam snaps, “Louis. Bracelet. Now.”

“Fuck you’re impatient,” Louis says lightly, handing it over. Liam gets up, eyes still on Zayn. “Wait, where are you going? Liam?”

Liam ignores him and heads for Zayn’s table. The girl beside him and her friends look up at him, but Liam ignores them and drops the bracelet into Zayn’s lap. Zayn picks it up, frowning, and says, “This is Harry’s.”

“I know,” Liam replies. “Now we’re even.”

Liam turns to head back to his table, but Zayn stands up and grabs his arm. Liam rolls his eyes and turns to him. “What?”

Zayn rubs the back of his neck. “About today. I, um--,”

Liam cuts him off before he can finish. “Don’t worry about it. You got another thing checked off the list, so good job.”

“What? I don’t--,”

“See you in potions on Monday,” Liam says, backing away. “Have a good weekend, Zayn.”

When Liam sits back down at his own table, Louis levels him with a confused look and then turns in his seat so he could look at Zayn over his shoulder. “What was that all about?” Louis demands, eyebrows drawing together.

Liam shrugs. “Niall, pass me those carrots, would you?”

Niall obeys and then says, “What happened with you and Malik? Thought you two were s’posed to go on a date today.”

Louis answers for him. “Zayn stood him up and Liam’s pretending he’s not upset, even though he obviously is because he’s completely infatuated with the stuck up Ravenclaw, for reasons still unknown to the rest of us.”

“I’m not,” Liam says while spooning food onto his plate. “Upset, or infatuated with him. I really, really couldn’t care less.”

Louis sighs at him. “Do you want to come out to the Quidditch pitch later and get drunk on Fire Whiskey with me?”

Liam nods and shovels food into his mouth, pointedly not letting his gaze move towards Zayn’s at all for the rest of the evening.




At eleven thirty he and Louis slip out of the common room. The Fat Lady shouts at them that it’s past curfew but they both ignore her and head down the stairs, careful not to make too much noise. Louis has his wand lit, and Liam has the bottle of Fire Whiskey in the pocket of his coat. It’s a bit heavy, and he can hear the liquid inside sloshing with every step he takes.

“Left,” Louis says suddenly, and Liam veers left, walking at a brisk pace.

The sound of their footsteps is loud in the empty hallway, but it can’t be helped. If they slow down enough to be quiet, they’ll be at just as much risk of getting caught as they are walking fast and making noise. They’ve done this enough times, though, that they should be fine.

Liam turns right abruptly and bumps into a solid body. Louis lets out a surprised shout, but Niall just hisses, “Shut the fuck up, it’s only me.”

“You Irish son of a bitch,” Louis breathes. “I thought you were Filch.”

“I think I should be offended by that,” Niall says, frowning. “But Filch is on the forth floor. Someone set off a set of firecrackers about five minutes after I snuck out of my common room. Heard him and Professor Hallstorm shouting about it.”

“Brilliant,” Louis says, turning back around. “That means we’re safe to use the exit by the greenhouse.”

Niall nods and they start back through the hallway they’d just come down. They turn left again, and then right, and then Louis nixes the light on his wand as they push open the door to the grounds, lest the groundskeeper see it from his hut.

“Shit,” Louis says, wiping snow off his face “I forgot about the snow. This isn’t going to be pleasant at all. Don’t let us freeze to death, Liam.”

Liam makes a face at him. “Why are you telling me that?”

“Because you’re the responsible one,” Louis answers. “In theory.”

“In theory,” Liam repeats.

Louis grins at him and grabs his shoulder, shaking it a bit. “You know we love you, Li.”

“Yeah,” Niall adds. “You’re like a cool uncle that tells us not to do shit and then helps us do it anyways.”

Liam rolls his eyes. “Whatever. I brought the keys to the storage shed. I think there’s a tarp or something inside that we can set up to protect us from the snow, and probably a few chairs.”

“Thank god,” Louis says. “I swear, as soon as I’ve graduated, I’m moving somewhere tropical. No more winter for me. Just summer, all year round. I’ll get an incredible tan and spend every day on the beach without a care in the world.”

By the time they get to the pitch, Louis’ hair is a wet mess, and Niall’s isn’t much better. Liam, at least, doesn’t have that issue. His ears are freezing cold, though.

“Think we should just head back?” Liam asks as he pulls out his wand, muttering a quick, “Lumos.”

“No way,” Louis says firmly. “We’re out here. Let’s just get this done. Plus, we’re drinking Fire Whiskey . It’ll keep us warm.”

“If you say so,” Liam replies, moving towards the storage shed, where they keep the chest with the Quidditch equipment, as well as a few other things, including school brooms. He pulls the key out of his pocket and unlocks it, knowing that he’s abusing his captaincy privileges by doing this. He’d rather do it then get drunk while being coated in a layer of snow, though.

Liam doesn’t find a tarp, but he does find a tent, which is a bit surprising. With Niall’s help he manages to get the thing outside, and then they set it up. It’s not an actual tent, the kind he and his parents used when they went camping, but it’s got four long poles that they dig into the ground, and then a canvas top that keeps most of the snow from hitting them. While they set it up, Louis retrieves a few old lawn chairs and sets them up underneath, and then they settle in and Liam uncaps the bottle of Fire Whiskey, taking the first sip.

It burns the whole way down, and Liam grimaces. As he hands it off to Louis, he feels the effects kicking in. His whole body warms, like he’s been lit on fire from the inside out. It’s not exactly unpleasant, especially given the cold weather.

“To beating the Slytherins,” Louis says, holding up the bottle. He tips his head back and takes a much larger sip than Liam had, and when he straightens up his face is contorted. He hands the bottle off to Niall and wipes the back of his hand against his mouth. “Fuck, that burns.”

Liam takes the bottle from Niall after he’s taken a sip, and he downs another shot of his own. He wishes they’d of thought to bring something to drink to follow the burn, but they hadn’t, so he’s stuck drinking it straight without anything to chase it with.

Half an hour later and the bottle is more than half empty, and Liam’s head is swimming. He can’t exactly see straight, and he thinks that he’s probably a lot more drunk than both Louis and Niall, who are far better at holding their alcohol.

His mind drifts to Zayn for some reason, and he tries to push away the burning anger, but everything in him is burning anyways because of the alcohol.

“Do you think that he really just asked me to get another check on that stupid list?” Liam questions.

“What was that, babe?” Louis asks.

Liam lets out an annoyed breath and says, “Zayn . Do you think he only asked me out because he wanted to get that thing checked off on the list?”

Louis and Niall are both quiet for a long moment before Niall says, “Did you give him a chance to explain?”

Liam shakes his head and looks out at the snow falling around them. “No. I didn’t really want to hear some excuse.”

“I think it was probably a big misunderstanding,” Louis says loudly. He always gets like that when he’s drunk, though. “He’s quite obviously into you.”

Liam snorts and holds out his hand for the bottle, which Niall passes to him. It doesn’t even burn that much on the way down anymore. It’s almost bearable.

“I think that I might like him,” Liam says softly. “Possibly.”

Louis lets out a snorting laugh. “So that’s the answer, then. Get half a bottle of alcohol into him and Liam starts admitting to things that we’ve all known for years. I’ll have to remember that.”

“Don’t be an ass,” Liam tells him, trying to glare at him. He probably fails. He doesn’t even care. “This isn’t so bad, actually,” he says, holding up the bottle of Fire Whiskey. “Feels nice.”

“You’re wasted,” Niall chuckles.

“’m not,” Liam denies. He isn’t. He is pleasantly buzzed. Definitely not wasted. If he were wasted he wouldn’t be able to stand up and walk in a straight line, now would he? No, so that’s exactly what he gets up to do, but the moment he’s out of his chair his head is spinning so badly that he can’t even see straight. “Woah.”

Louis and Niall both laugh at him as he leans heavily on his chair to stay upright. He turns towards the other side of the pitch. He spots a pinprick of light in the distance, and for a moment he thinks it’s just his imagination. But then the light gets closer and, no, that is definitely the light from a wand. Shit. Shit .

“Guys,” Liam says, eyes widening. “Someone’s coming.”

“Fuck,” Louis says, sitting up. “Where’s the lid? Liam, lid, now .”

Liam searches his pockets for the lid to the botle and finds it in the left one. He tries to toss it to Louis but it goes wide, his aim way off. Louis scrambles to pick it up and then caps the bottle and stuffs it in his pocket just as he comes into view.

“Zayn,” Liam breathes, surprised.

Zayn is wearing nothing but a thin sweatshirt, hugging his arms around himself. His eyes are narrowed on Liam and he says, “I was just sitting in the Slytherin common room with Harry while he went over the list, and then suddenly a checkmark appeared beside get drunk on the Quidditch pitch , and I thought, surely you wouldn’t actually be out here, but I was wrong, apparently. You realize it’s snowing, right? And that it‘s past midnight? And--”

“Lighten up, Ravenclaw,” Louis says, holding out the bottle of Fire Whiskey. “Want to join us?”

Liam stumbles towards Zayn, feet slipping in the slick, icy grass. “You look cold,” he says, but it comes out a lot more slurred than he intended. Liam frowns and sticks out his tongue and strains to look down at it, wondering if it’s as big as it suddenly feels.

“You look wasted,” Zayn responds, raising his dark eyebrows. Liam sort of wants to touch them, see what they feel like. He lifts a hand to do so, but Zayn is so, so far away from him.

“That’s what I said,” Niall pipes up. Liam turns to glare at him and nearly falls over, but a pair of hands grab his waist and hold him up.

“Aw,” Louis coos. “Malik to the rescue once again. Where do I get a knight in shining armour, Niall? I want a Zayn.”

“No,” Liam says suddenly, grabbing the front of Zayn’s shirt. “This one’s mine.”

This is apparently extremely funny, because Niall and Louis both burst into laughter. Liam is dead serious, though.

One of Zayn’s hands move from his waist to his cheek, gently brushing over it. “You good, Li?” he asks.

Liam nods because yeah, he is. But then no, actually, he’s not. He’s really, really upset at Zayn. “’m mad at you,” Liam tells him, shaking his head.

“Can you be mad at me while sitting down?” Zayn asks.

Liam considers this and then nods. “Not letting go, though,” he adds, because he’s not. His hands are securely holding onto Zayn’s thin shirt. Really thin shirt, actually. Liam lets go with only one hand, and he tries to tug off his coat and give it to Zayn, but it falls to the ground.

“You should take him inside,” Louis suggests. “He’s fairly drunk.”

Zayn struggles to bend down to pick up Liam’s coat with Liam’s hands still fisted in his shirt. He straightens up and gives Liam a considering look and then says, “You’re probably right. What’s the password to your common room?”

Louis snorts. “Like I’m telling you. You’ll probably tell Styles, and who knows what he’d do with that information. We’ve already had to change it after he broke in the other day.”

Zayn makes a frustrated noise and his forehead wrinkles as he frowns. Liam laughs -- or giggles, but he’d deny it if anyone claimed that’s what sound he made-- and lifts a hand to brush his fingers over the lines until they smooth out. Zayn’s skin is really, really soft. Liam wants to kiss it. Liam wants to kiss him, actually. Everywhere.

Liam leans in to do just that when Zayn says, “Fine, I’ll take him back to mine, then.”

“Good idea,” Louis says. “Farewell, Liam. We’ll meet again in another life, you brave, brave soul.”

“Louis’ a bit dramatic,” Liam whispers to Zayn.

Zayn sighs and struggles to uncurl Liam’s fingers from his shirt. “I can’t get you back to the castle if you don’t let go, Liam.”

“I don’t want to let go,” Liam says, frowning.

“You’re like a child when you’re drunk, are you aware of that?” Zayn asks, finally managing to get his shirt free, He curls his fingers into the spaces between the fingers of Liam’s on one hand and says, “Here, see? Not letting go. Just rearranging.”

Liam squeezes Zayn hand, feeling even warmer all of a sudden. “Okay.”

Zayn takes one last look at Louis and Niall, and then he guides Liam forward, tugging on his hand. Liam stumbles a fair bit, and he tries to lean on Zayn as much as he possibly can, because Zayn smells like citrus and even though he’s definitely not wearing proper clothes to be out in this weather, he’s still warm.

“Liam,” Zayn says hesitantly, flexing his fingers. “I’m going to let go of your hand, okay? Just to make it easier to walk.”

Liam barely hears him. “I’m very tired,” he confides, eyelids drooping a bit. “Really, really tired, actually.”

“Brilliant,” Zayn groans, releasing his hand. He moves it to Liam’s waist, and Liam puts an arm over Zayn’s shoulder because he has a feeling that he won’t be able to hold himself up for much longer. “You’re fucking heavy, do you know that?”

“Don’t be rude,” Liam scolds.

“Just stating facts,” Zayn replies, fingers digging into Liam’s waist a bit, but in a good way.

“I waited for you for about an hour,” Liam blurts without meaning to. His eyebrows draw together because he definitely didn’t mean to say that.

Zayn pauses in his step a bit, and Liam stumbles forward until he backs up into Zayn’s arms again. “I didn’t think it was a good idea,” Zayn says quietly as they resume walking. They’re close to the castle now, and Liam looks up at it. Is it always this big, or did it get bigger? He feels extremely small.

“Why not?” Liam asks, remembering that Zayn had spoken.

“Because it was supposed to just be for the list,” Zayn answers with a shrug that Liam feels more than sees. “And I figured that, if I went, I’d want it to be more than that. So I didn’t go. Harry was supposed to tell you, but I guess he forgot.”

“Or he didn’t tell me on purpose,” Liam offers. “He’s sort of an ass. I don’t know why you’re friends with him. You’re so nice . Except when you’re not. Sometimes you’re not. Maybe you are an ass, actually.”

Zayn snorts. “I don’t know if that was a compliment or an insult.”


Zayn stops abruptly and releases Liam completely. Liam makes an upset sound, not at all happy with this, but Zayn says, “We’re almost at the castle. Just hold still for a second.”

Liam tries and sways a bit, but he’s mostly successful as he waits for Zayn to do whatever it is he’s going to do. He figures out what a moment later when Zayn pulls out his wand and taps him on the head with it, much like he had in that closet earlier in the week. The cold, dripping sensation makes him shiver, but he doesn’t think about it much because Zayn it twisting his wand around himself, and then he’s gone, and Liam starts to panic.

“Zayn,” Liam says quietly. “Zayn, where--,”

“I’m right here,” Zayn answers, arm going back around Liam’s waist. His brain is having issues working this out, because he is aware that invisibility spells are a thing, but he’s a bit too drunk to really understand that, and the fact that Zayn is here but not here is just confusing him. “Just be quiet until we get in my common room. Can you do that?”

“I can do that,” Liam says confidently as Zayn moves them forward again. “I can definitely do that. Definitely.”


“Right, sorry.”

They enter the castle through a different door than Liam had exited it with Louis and Niall. Zayn leads him through a hall and then up a spiral staircase that seem endless. “I hate stairs,” Liam says quietly.

“We’re almost there,” Zayn tells him.

At the top of the stairs there’s a door. There’s no handle anywhere to be seen, but there’s a large eagle shaped knocker, and Liam realizes they’re at the door to the Ravenclaw common room. He’s never been inside, never having reason to, and he’s never been up this particular staircase for the same reason.

Zayn releases Liam to use the knocker. A moment later an unfamiliar voice says, “What can you break but not touch?”

Liam turns to Zayn, eyes wide, and asks, “What was that?”

Zayn chuckles. “You have the Fat Lady, we have a riddle asking eagle.”

Liam frowns at this and doesn’t even attempt to figure out the answer to the question. Instead he leans on Zayn as the other boy thinks, and then a moment later Zayn says, “A promise can be broken but not touched. That was far too easy.”

The door swings open and Zayn steps through, gripping Liam’s hand to tug him in after him. Liam hesitates for a moment, eyes on the eagle, but then he allows Zayn to guide him inside, and the door shuts behind him.

Zayn works on undoing the spell that keeps them invisible while Liam looks around. There’s a huge window letting in moonlight that illuminates the room. He’s not surprised to see walls lined with bookshelves, each holding hundreds of books. “Why do you spend so much time in the library when you have all these books in here?” he asks Zayn, who is no longer invisible.

Zayn shrugs. “The library’s quieter, and there are far more books in there. This is a pretty small collection in comparison.”

Liam snorts because of course Zayn would think this wasn’t a lot of books. They have a bookshelf in the Gryffindor common room, but it doesn’t even compare to the impossible tall and wide bookshelves in the Ravenclaw common room.

“I’m going to run up to my room and get us blankets and pillows,” Zayn tells him. “Don’t make too much noise, okay?”

Liam nods and makes his way towards one of the couches, which doesn’t look nearly as comfortable as the one in his own common room, but that could be because he’s biased. His head is still spinning and his eyes aren’t focusing right. He doesn’t like it, doesn’t like not being in full control of his body. He shouldn’t have had as much to drink as he had.

Liam sinks down onto the couch and listens to the quiet sound of Zayn’s shoes slapping against the stairs, and then the sound of a door opening. He leans his head back against the couch and closes his eyes, lids far too heavy to keep open anymore.

He wakes up to someone pushing gently on his shoulder. Someone who smells like citrus. “Zayn,” Liam groans.

“You fell asleep,” Zayn tells him. “Here, lie down.”

Liam blinks open his eyes to see Zayn with a blanket over his shoulder. He lets Zayn push him down until he’s lying on the couch, and then Zayn takes off his shoes and covers him with a blanket. “Next time drink inside, yeah?”

“Okay,” Liam mumbles into the pillow. It smells like citrus too.

“I’m going to go make sure that Louis and Niall got inside. Do you think you’ll be alright here?”

Liam reaches out blindly and, after two failed attempts, manages to wrap his fingers around Zayn’s wrists. “Stay.”

“I’ll be right back Liam, I promise.”

“Promises can be broken, remember?” Liam points out, struggling to open his eyes again. He finds the task too hard and gives up, settling for attempting to pull Zayn down beside him.

“Liam, come on,” Zayn says, struggling to pull out of his grip. “Ten minutes. That’s it.”

Liam sighs and releases him. “Fine.”

“If anyone comes downstairs, just tell them that I’ll be right back.”

“Right back,” Liam repeats.

He hears Zayn walk away and rolls onto his back. The blanket is warm and he shifts a bit, tugging it up to his neck. He’s so tired, but he doesn’t want to sleep until Zayn gets back. Staying awake isn’t exactly easy, though, because everything smells like Zayn and he’s just the right kind of warm. The couch is actually pretty comfortable, too, and maybe waiting for Zayn is too much effort.




Liam wakes up to his head pounding and someone asking, “What the fuck is Payne doing in our common room?”

Everything is so loud . The words seem to ricochet in his head, and he groans loudly as someone else says something, and then the sound of a door slamming feels like someone stabbing his brain. Liam blinks open his eyes slowly, and he’s not in his bed. He’s on a couch in an unfamiliar room, and there’s a group of faces staring down at him.

Liam slowly sits up, wiping at his eyes, and he sees Zayn across from him, curled up in an armchair. The way his neck is bent cannot be comfortable, and he looks incredibly small.

“Malik!” someone shouts. Liam flinches, falling back down onto the couch. The room is way too bright, there’s too much noise, and his head hurts. It’s all just too much .

“What?” Zayn asks. His voice is rough and cracked with sleep, and Liam refuses to find it adorable. His head hurts too much for anything to be adorable right now, and he’s pretty freaking confused about why he’s even in the Ravenclaw common room -- because that’s got to be where he is, it’s the only thing that makes sense-- when the last thing he remembers is sitting on a chair in the middle of the Quidditch pitch with Louis and Niall.

“Too early,” Liam grumbles, pulling the blanket covering him up over his head, even though the action has him surrounded in the smell of citrus, and seriously, does Zayn bathe in orange juice?

“Your boyfriend looks pretty hungover,” someone comments.

“Not my boyfriend,” Zayn says, sounding far more awake. “What time is it?”

“Almost nine,” another female answers. “Might want to move him up to your room before everyone else wakes up.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Zayn says, and then he yawns loudly. Liam hears the chair creak and then Zayn is tugging down the blanket, letting in the blinding light. “You’re up, then.”

“No,” Liam says, shaking his head. “I’m not.”

Zayn rolls his eyes. “Do you want to go up to my room, or do you think you’re good enough to walk back to your own?”

The prospect of walking all the way across the castle has Liam wincing. Fuck, why did he drink so much last night?

“How far is your room?” Liam asks.

Zayn snorts and says, “Up a few stairs.”

“Okay,” Liam agrees, sitting up. Once again he has a handful of sort of familiar faces looking at him, all of them female. He shifts uncomfortably and wraps Zayn’s blanket -- it has to be Zayn’s, it smells like him-- around his shoulders as he struggles to sit up.

If he thought his head hurt before, it is nothing to the way it feels when he stands up. It’s like someone cracked it open with a hammer. “Fuck,” Liam breathes.

Zayn puts an arm around his waist after grabbing the pillow off the couch. Liam doesn’t care enough to push him away, even though there is a voice in the back of his head reminding him that he’s mad at Zayn. That Zayn stood him up, all because of that stupid list.

“Come on,” Zayn urges.

“That is adorable ,” someone comments. Zayn glares at them for it.

Zayn guides him over to a staircase and Liam looks up at it and then decides, yeah, that’s not going to happen. “Just leave me here,” Liam moans, sinking down onto the first step. “I can’t do it. I’d rather die.”

“I want to go back to sleep,” Zayn snaps. “And I can’t physically carry you, but I can jinx your ass until you get up there yourself. You have a choice.”

Liam takes a deep breath and then stands up, blanket nearly slipping from his shoulders. He leans heavily on the banister and, somehow, they manage to make it all the way to the top of the stairs -- oh how he hates stairs-- and into a room that looks a lot like his own, actually. There are more windows, each covered by heavy, thick -- thank god- curtains that block out almost all light. There are four canopy beds, too, each one draped with Ravenclaw colours.

Zayn instantly falls into the only empty bed, one that doesn’t have a comforter on it, probably because it’s around Liam’s shoulder. Liam looks at him, chewing his lip, and realizes that he’d sort of agreed to sleeping in Zayn’s bed. With Zayn. In a bed.

Zayn sits up on his elbows and raises his eyebrows. Liam can barely see him in the dark, but he thinks that Zayn might look both annoyed and amused, like he usually does. Liam huffs out a breath and thinks, fuck it. He can blame this all on the hangover later, after he’s slept a bit more and his head no longer feels like it’s been split in half.

Liam falls onto Zayn’s bed, and after a moment he throws the cover over Zayn, too, even though he sort of wants to keep it wrapped around himself only. He can hear one of Zayn’s roommates snoring as he shifts to get comfortable, far too aware of the other body in his bed. It’s not like he always sleeps alone. Niall’s slept in his bed countless times over the years, and Louis might deny it if ever asked, but he gets homesick all the time and curls up beside Liam, falling asleep only after Liam’s brushed his fingers through his hair for a while. But this is different because those were his friends, and while he a part of him might, at one point, of wished that Zayn was his friend, he’s not .

“Stop thinking and go to sleep,” Zayn whispers before breaking into a yawn.

Liam sighs and closes his eyes. “Sorry.”

“Don’t worry about it, just go to bed , yeah?”





This time when he wakes up, he’s curled around another warm, solid body. He has an arm curled around Zayn’s waist, hand flat on his chest, and he can feel the even beating of Zayn’s heart. His other arm is trapped uncomfortably under his own body, and he has a leg thrown over Zayn’s. His lips are only inches from Zayn’s neck, and to his sleep fogged brain, kissing the skin there seems like a good idea. But then Zayn makes a soft noise and Liam realizes that this isn’t a dream. This is actually happening. He is cuddling with Zayn .

As carefully as he can, Liam disentangles himself from around Zayn’s body, trying not to wake him as he starts to panic, just a bit. His head doesn’t hurt nearly as much as it had, but he was cuddling with Zayn. In Zayn’s bed. In the Ravenclaw dormitory.

Liam slowly moves his legs out of bed and stands up, cold seeping into his feet from the stone, through his socks. Zayn rolls over suddenly, but his eyes are still closed as he grabs at the blanket that had been covering Liam moments ago, tugging it to his chest. He looks really young like that, hair mused from sleep, expression almost soft, lips parted slightly. Liam really, really needs to get out of here.

He moves across the cold stone floor and, with one last look for Zayn, who is definitely still unconscious, he slips out the door.

There are people in the common room below. He can hear them, and he really wishes he could avoid passing through there to get out of the Ravenclaw dormitory, but unfortunately he can’t. And his head is starting to hurt again from the loud noises.

Several people look up at him when he gets to the bottom of the stairs, and most of them are smirking. “Doing the walk of shame, Payne?” asks a sixth year female that Liam knows is on the Ravenclaw Quidditch team. “Does Zayn know you’re sneaking out of his bed while he’s still asleep?”

Liam swallows. “How do you know he’s still asleep?”

A few people laugh, and this time it’s a guy who says, “’cause if he was awake he’d be down here with you, making sure that none of us harassed you.”

“Your shoes are by the door,” someone else puts in.

“Thanks,” Liam mumbles, ducking his head. He doesn’t meet anyone else’s eyes as he heads for the door on the other side of the room. He slips on his shoes and ducks out the door as quickly as he can, and then he pauses outside and tries to clear his head. It doesn’t really work. It’s still fogged with sleep and from the alcohol he’d had last night. And from the smell of citrus, which seems to cling to him now, too.

By the time he gets back to his own common room, he figures it must be late in the afternoon. Normally he doesn’t sleep that late. He sort of hates spending the whole day in bed. He could use another few hours of sleep still, though, and he plans on getting them as soon as he’s in his own room, out of his wrinkled clothed, and alone.

“Blast-ended skrewt,” Liam says to the fat lady. His voice sounds wrecked, like he’d been yelling all night, or was starting to get a cold. Lovely.

For once the Fat Lady doesn’t have a lecture for him. “Bit of honeywater and a drop of rose oil on your temples should clear that headache right up, dear.”

Liam nods. “I’ll keep that in mind,” he says as the door to the common room opens. Liam steps through, wincing at the bright light coming in through the windows.

Louis is not in the common room. A few of his housemates give him questioning glances, obviously aware of the fact that Liam is just getting in from last night. He doesn’t bother to answer any of them as he trudges up the stairs to his room.

Liam pushes open the door and closes it as quietly behind himself as he can, but the soft noise has Louis sitting up in his bed, jaw clenched. “If you make another sound,” Louis says threateningly, “I will throttle you.”

Liam doesn’t have the energy to even flip him off. He tugs off his shirt, kicks off his pants, and climbs into his own bed and tries to get back to sleep. He’s too awake now, though, and he can’t .

The end of his bed dips, and then Louis is crawling up it and sprawling out beside him, his own blanket around his shoulders. “I drank to much,” Louis announces. “Your boyfriend and Niall apparently had to carry me up the stairs, and then Niall had to carry me into bed. I love Niall. You abandoned me. I don’t love you.”

Liam rolls onto his side to face him. Louis’ hair is a mess, and Liam has a feeling that if he even tried to brush his fingers through it that they’d get stuck, or he’d end up tugging out strands of it. He looks pale, too, and there are bags under his eyes.

“I cuddled with Zayn,” Liam admits.

Louis puts his head on Liam’s chest. “That’s adorable. Cuddle with me now. I’ve had dibs for more than six years. Zayn Malik can get his own Liam.”

Liam sighs and pushes Louis’ hair off his forehead. “I sort of snuck out. I think he’s still sleeping.”

Louis sits up suddenly and slaps his shoulder. “You did not. Liam .”

“I kind of did,” Liam admits. “Was I really drunk last night? Like embarrassingly so?”

Louis sits up and contemplates this for a minute. “At one point I think you were going to lick his face, and you also refused to release his shirt until he held your hand. Oh, and you said that Zayn was yours, which, by the way Liam, is rude. People do not belong to you.”

“Didn’t you just say you had dibs on me?” Liam argues to hide the fact that he’s extremely freaking embarrassed. Fuck, he can sort of remember saying that when Louis said he wanted a guy like Zayn. Hopefully Zayn will have forgotten about that part of last night.

“I need a shower,” Louis says abruptly.

“So do I,” Liam admits. He knows he won’t be able to get back to bed now. “Meet you in the Great Hall in half an hour?”

Louis nods and they both get out of his bed.




When Liam gets to potions on Monday, Zayn is sitting on the other side of the room beside Miranda, a girl from Niall’s house that Liam’s only spoken to on a few occasions. Liam frowns and sits down at his normal table, by himself, and catches Zayn’s eyes for only a moment before Zayn’s eyes narrow and he looks away.

Liam hadn’t seen him at all yesterday. He wasn’t in the Great Hall during lunch or dinner, and he wasn’t in there for breakfast this morning. It’s quite obvious now that it’s because he’s upset at Liam, though Liam can’t think of any reason why he would be. And wasn’t Liam the one who was mad at him for standing him up?

Whatever. If Zayn wants to be mad at him, fine. Liam really doesn’t care. Or that’s what he tells himself all through potions while glancing over at Zayn every few minuets. Zayn never looks back, and at the end of class he is the first one out the door, no giving Liam any time to stop him and ask him what he did wrong, and what he can do to set it right.

At dinner Liam tries to pay attention to Louis, who is doing something for the list, but he’s distracted.

“More than one person wrote this list,” Louis says suddenly, and Liam stops scanning the Ravenclaw table, knowing that Zayn’s not there. “I mean, some of these are normal, like, win a Quidditch game with a hundred point lead at least , but then some of these are clearly written by someone who is fucking insane. I mean, really? Use polyjuice potion to sneak into the opposing team‘s common room . Where the hell are we going to get polyjuice potion? It’ll take months to brew it from scratch.”

“Lovette should have some in her person supply closet,” Niall muses. “She has a shitload of potions in there.”

“How do you even know that?” Louis asks him.

Niall shrugs. “She’s our head of house. She tells us stuff.”

Louis rolls his eyes. “Not fair. House privilege. It’s not like Malgorne ever lets me off my Muggle Studies homework just because he’s my head of house.”

Liam sighs and pushes away from the table. “I’m not hungry,” he says. “I’ll see you guys later.”

“If you’re going to brood about Zayn, can you do it while helping us break into Lovette’s supply closet?”

“No,” Liam says, shaking his head.

“Like, an actual no, or a Liam no, where you’ll say yes if I just ask a few more times and pout a bit?” Louis questions.

Liam rolls his eyes. “Actual no. I’m going to the library.”

“What? Why would you do that?” Louis asks.

Liam doesn’t answer. He just grabs a bun off the table and chews it as he makes his way through the room and out the door. The food sits like a brick in his stomach and it doesn’t taste much better, but he barely ate anything at breakfast, and he figures it’ll be good to get something in his stomach.

When he gets to the library he realizes that, even if Zayn is inside (which he can’t be sure about), it’ll be nearly impossible to find him unless he wants to be found. The library is a sprawling labyrinth of shelves. Liam doesn’t spend enough time in here to know the place off the back of his hand, the way that Zayn most likely does, and he has no idea where to start looking for him.

He heads for the windows against the left wall, checking the desks that are pushed up against said wall. There are students scattered about, some sitting at tables, bent over books or homework. There are more in the aisles between the shelves. Zayn isn’t one of them, though.

Liam sighs and heads farther into the impossibly large room, checking down every aisle he passes. He considers asking a Ravenclaw that he passes if they’ve seen Zayn but then thinks the better of it when she glares at him and hurries towards one of her friends. That just further proves what Liam’s already worked out: Zayn is definitely upset with him. Enough so that his housemates are giving him the cold shoulder as well.

Liam’s almost ready to give up by the time he reaches the other side of the room where there are desks scattered few and far between aisles. These are the desks you work at when you really, really want to be alone. Liam’s only sat at them once, in his fifth year while he was studying for his O.W.Ls and Louis was stressing out so much that he started rebelling and setting off fireworks in their common room.

There’s only one desk in use, and the person using it isn’t there at the moment. All of their things are spread out in a neat, orderly fashion. Books are stacked perfectly, largest on the bottom, smallest on the top, all of their spines in line. There is one book open, and it lays flat in front of a piece of parchment with a vat of ink and a quill laying beside it. Liam shakes his head and pulls back the chair across from the one that’s pushed a bit away from the table, like the person sitting there had gotten up in a hurry and didn’t bother to push it back in.

He doesn’t need to look down at the writing on the page, to read the name in the right corner, to know that it’s Zayn’s table. Five minutes -- and a lot of anxious foot tapping-- later, and Zayn comes out from one of the aisles a few shelves down, a large book in his hands that he’s got open and is reading while he walks.

He doesn’t see Liam until he’s pulling back his chair, and he nearly drops the book in his hand. Liam waits for him to ask what Liam’s doing here, but he doesn’t. He places his book on the table, pushes back the large stack of them, and then sits down and picks up his quill and begins writing furiously on the page. Every so often he stops and pulls one of the books closer to him and flips through the pages until he finds what he’s looking for, and then he slams it closed and tosses it aside before resuming his writing.

Liam quietly waits for him to look up, but he doesn’t. He just keeps working and writing, and occasionally licking his lips or biting them. Not once do his eyes lift to Liam, and Liam’s getting a bit impatient because he’s been sitting there for at least half an hour, and neither of them have said anything.

Finally Zayn lifts his eyes, but instead of saying something he pushes away from the table and heads for one of the aisles. Liam sighs and gets up too, following him.

“Are you just going to completely ignore me?” he asks as Zayn stops in front of a shelf and runs his fingers over the spines of a few books before stopping on one and pulling it out.

Zayn sighs and shoves the book back onto the shelf with a lot more force than was probably necessary. He turns to Liam, head ducked, and says, “I thought that’s what you wanted.”

Liam gapes at him. “Why would I want that?”

Zayn shrugs. “Because you were pretty quick to run away from me that morning, and then my housemates told me that you looked pretty fucking embarrassed when you left, so I thought it’d be for the best if I just left you alone.”

“I was embarrassed,” Liam admits. He runs a hand over his hair. “I made a complete ass of myself that night, Zayn, and then when I woke up I realized it, and I really needed to clear my head. I couldn’t do that with you laying beside me, so I left.”

“You ran,” Zayn corrects, eyes narrowing a bit.

“Okay, I ran,” Liam concedes.

“How brave of you, Gryffindor,” Zayn says, crossing his arms over his chest.

“I’m here trying to work it out, aren’t I? Unlike you, who just avoids me completely, going so far as to not step foot in the Great Hall for two whole days.”

Zayn rolls his eyes and says, “That wasn’t just because of you. You flatter yourself too much, Liam. I’ve been busy with a big paper for Arithmancy, one that I still need to work on, so if you don’t mind do you think you could maybe stop bothering me?”

Liam groans and says, “Why are you so frustrating?”

“Because I live to annoy you,” Zayn says dryly. “Are we done here? Did you do what you needed to?”

“Are you still mad at me?” Liam asks.

Zayn gives him a blank look for a long moment, and then he finally says, “If I say no will you stop bothering me?”

“Maybe,” Liam says, grinning.

“Then fine. No, Liam, I’m not mad at you.”

He turns back to the bookshelf and grabs out another book, flipping open the pages until he finds what he’s looking for. Liam watches him, leaning against the shelf, until Zayn raises his eyebrows and says, “I thought you were leaving.”

“I said maybe,” Liam points out.

“Do you not have something better to do?” Zayn demands, slamming the book closed.

“Not really,” Liam says brightly.

Zayn shoulders past him, down the aisle, and turns left. Liam follows him as Zayn continues down another aisle and then stops and bends down to search a lower shelf, finally pulling out a book. He doesn’t acknowledge Liam at all the whole way back to his table, and Liam slips into the seat across from him and watches him work.

Honestly, he really doesn’t have anything better to do. Louis and Niall are probably working on something for the list, and Liam can’t really be bothered to get involved in that right now. And he’s sort of content to just sit there and watch Zayn work.

Liam reaches for one of the books in Zayn’s stack and pulls it open, flipping through the pages. He doesn’t understand half of the stuff inside, and he doesn’t really try to. Zayn is apparently a fucking genius, but Liam sort of already knew that.

“Can you stop distracting me?” Zayn hisses, looking up.

Liam shuts the book and frowns at him. “I’m not even making any noise. How am I distracting you?”

“You just are,” Zayn says, looking back down at his work.

“By existing ?”


Liam ignores him. “Are you coming to the game on Friday?”

Zayn gives him a confused look, obviously caught off guard by the random question. “Why?”

Because I want you there . “Just wondering.”

“I don’t know,” Zayn admits. He writes something down on his page and then adds, “Probably.”

Liam leans forward on his elbows. “Supporting Gryffindor or Slytherin?”

“Does is really matter?” Zayn asks, exasperated.

Liam shrugs. “Guess not.”

Liam lets him work again for a few minutes before saying, “I’d like it if you came.”

Zayn lets out an annoyed sound and then shuts all of his books, stacks them together, and rolls up his parchment. He packs it, along with two of the books and his ink and quill, into a bag and then stands up and says, “You can carry those books.”

“You’re done?” Liam asks, standing up.

“No, but obviously you’re not going to let me work,” Zayn says. “And I could probably use some fresh air anyways. Help me put those away and then come for a walk with me outside?”

Liam grabs the books and frowns. “A walk outside,” he repeats.

Zayn shrugs. “It’s snowing again. I sort of like the snow, okay?”

Liam grins. “Okay.”

Zayn knows every inch of the library by memory, apparently, because he weaves through the aisles, stopping every once in a while to point to a gap in the shelves and tell Liam which book goes there. Liam puts them away and then they continue on in silence, only the sounds of their feet hitting the plush carpet to surround them because the library is so quiet.

When they’re done they head for the doors, and Liam feels a few eyes on them as they go. He turns to see that same Ravenclaw girl from earlier glaring at them and decides that maybe that had nothing to do with Zayn being upset with him.

When they’re in the hallway Zayn stops and says, “You might want to go get your coat. It’s probably cold outside.”

“Right,” Liam says, eying the window to his right. It’s getting dark out, and the sky is a deep gray. The snow isn’t falling heavily, but it’s falling fast. “Do you want to meet at the doors by the greenhouse?”

Zayn nods and turns, but he stops a moment later and faces Liam again, saying, “You’re not going to stand me up as payback, are you?”

“No,” Liam says honestly. “I, unlike you, wouldn’t do that.”

Zayn cocks his head to the side and rubs the back of his neck. “You don’t remember me explaining why I did that, do you?”

Liam shakes his head. “No, I don’t.”

“Good,” Zayn says quietly. He grins. “Ten minutes, greenhouse doors. If you’re not there just remember that I know where you sleep, Gryffindor.”

Liam turns to go in the opposite direction, heading for the his dormitory. He feels warm and a little giddy, but a bit confused because he honestly has no idea how they got to this point, considering the fact that about an hour ago he was sort of mad at Zayn, and Zayn was definitely mad at him, but neither of them had really apologized.

It’s as he’s entering the common room that he realizes this late night walk in the snow could be considered sort of romantic. And then he wonders if he wants that. Apparently, if the twisting in his stomach is any indication.


“Liam!” Louis says loudly. “Did you find Malik in the library?”

Louis is sitting (technically) on one of the armchairs by the fire. He’s actually upside down, his legs up on the headrest, his head hanging just a few inches from the floor. His face is red and Niall has a bowl of popcorn in front of him, and he tries to get a piece in Louis’ open mouth but it bounces off his forehead instead.

“I did,” Liam answers. “I can’t really talk, though.”

Louis frowns and struggles to sit up, but Liam hurries towards the stairs to avoid questions. Markus is in their room, sprawled out on his bed with a bunch of homework. Liam tries not to disturb him as he grabs his coat and then, for good measure, his Gryffindor scarf and his gloves. He wraps the scarf around his neck and tugs on the gloves before heading back downstairs, nearly bumping into Louis on the way.

“Where are you going all bundled up like that?” Louis asks, raising his eyebrows.

“Out,” Liam says vaguely, waking past him.

“That was not an answer, Liam!” Louis calls after him. Liam ignores him and pushes open the door, shutting it quickly behind himself.

This time Zayn is the one waiting for him, and he’s actually there . He’s wearing a black button up jacket that doesn’t look like it will do all that much to protect him from the cold weather. It’s more fashionable than practical, Liam thinks.

“Ready then?” Liam asks, stopping a few feet from him.

Zayn nods and pushes open the door. The cold wind instantly bites at his cheeks and Liam ducks his head against the icy flakes that land on his skin. Zayn lifts up the collar of his jacket and then ducks his head a bit, cheeks red from either the cold or a blush, and offers Liam his hand.

Liam hesitates only for a moment before taking it. Zayn’s wearing gloves too, and Liam sort of wishes that they weren’t. He’d rather feel Zayn’s hand against his, skin on skin instead of material again material.

The castle is really beautiful in the winter, Liam thinks. Zayn leads him down a familiar path that leads to the lake and then back up and around the doors that lead to the path by the gamekeeper’s hut. They don’t talk much, and it’s mostly quiet outside, like they’re in a snow globe and there’s nothing but them and the snow and the castle.

“This is sort of nice, yeah?” Zayn asks as they get to the lake. They don’t stop and look out at it, but it’s already covered by a thin layer of ice.

“It is,” Liam agrees, squeezing his hand. “We should have done this a long time ago.”

Zayn stops walking and Liam keeps going for a few steps, his hand slipping out of Zayn’s. He stops, confused, and turns to Zayn, wondering if he said something wrong. Zayn’s just standing there, snow falling into his quiff and not melting. Liam wants to brush it off but then doesn’t at the same time because he looks sort of cute like that.

Zayn rubs the back of his neck and says, “Liam, I--,”

The snowball comes from nowhere and hits Zayn in the back of the head. Zayn flinches, stumbling forward, and Liam grabs his arm to steady him as another snowball hits Liam in the back.

“What the fuck ?” Zayn asks, turning.

Liam looks around, trying to figure out where they came from as another one hits him in the thigh hard enough to sting.

Liam whips around and spots a familiar head of blonde hair ducking behind a tree. He narrows his eyes as another snowball comes from the other direction, this one hitting Zayn in the chest. He turns to see--, “Wait, is that Harry?” Liam asks, frowning.

“You’ve been caught in the crossfire!” Louis yells from the direction he’d seen Niall. “Win a snowball fight,” he adds. “It’s for the list!”

Harry runs up to them, grabbing Zayn by the shoulders to use him as a shield. “He started it,” Harry hisses as Louis and Niall send another couple of snowballs in their direction. Liam jumps back to avoid getting hit and glares at his friends.

“Louis, fuck off,” Liam shouts.

“Not until Harry surrenders,” Louis calls back.

“Like hell!” Harry shouts back. “Liam and Zayn are on my team now!”

“Are you seriously having a snowball fight?” Zayn demands, giving his friend an incredulous look. “That is so--,”

Liam doesn’t find out what that is because a snowball hits Zayn in the chin, and his eyes narrow as he wipes the cold flakes from his skin. There’s a red mark where it hit, and Zayn look murderous. “It is so on.”

Liam watches as he bends down to scoop up a handful of snow, forming it quickly into a ball. He waits until Louis peaks his head out again to throw it, and it hits him square in the forehead.

“Zayn!” Louis shrieks. “What the hell?”

Zayn grins and spreads his arms out wide, as if daring Louis to do something about it. Liam’s never seen this side of him before, this playful, carefree side. His hair has almost completely fallen, and he’s grinning wide, tongue pressed up against the back of his teeth.

Louis moves out from behind the tree, grabbing a handful of snow as he goes. Zayn suddenly grabs Liam’s hand and says, “I think this would be a good time to run.”

Liam nods as two snowballs hit his chest, and then they’re running, leaving Harry behind. Louis tackles him into the snow and then pushes himself up to run after him and Zayn, leaving Harry behind with Niall.

They’re not even following a path anymore. They’re running downhill in the direction of the gamekeeper’s hut, and Liam can’t stop because if he does he thinks he’ll end up sprawled out on the ground.

“Your friends are insane,” Zayn shouts, still tugging him along.

“A bit hypocritical, don’t you think?” Liam asks. A snowball whizzes by their heads and Liam turns to see both Harry and Louis standing together at the top of the hill, Harry forming snowballs while Louis throws them. “Are they working together?”

“That can’t be good for anyone involved,” Zayn says, tugging Liam left, just out of the way of another snowball. “We need some sort of cover,” he adds before ducking as Louis hurls another snowball his way. Then he frowns and says, “Wait, why the fuck are we throwing snow when we have wands?”

Liam frowns because this is a really, really good point. He reaches into his pocket and pulls out his own as Zayn does the same, and then Louis is yelling, “That’s cheating!”

Zayn flicks his wand in Louis’ direction, and then Louis falls flat on his ass. Harry laughs at him until Niall appears behind him and stuffs a pile of snow down the back of his jacket; Harry is no longer laughing at him after that.

Louis is scrambling to get up but Zayn flicks his wand again, and suddenly the ground at Louis’ feet is completely coated in ice. He slips again, and then Niall falls, too, right on top of him.

“Give up?” Zayn shouts.

Liam can see Louis’ glare even from a distance. “Not likely, you son of --,” Niall elbows him in the ribs on accident.

Liam lowers his own wand and this time he grabs Zayn’s hand. “We should probably start running again before he gets up. He’s probably going to kill you.”

Zayn regards Louis with a calm expression and then turns to Liam and says, “Yeah, you’re probably right.”

“Wait, what’s he doing?” Liam asks, pointing at Louis, who isn’t really doing anything. Zayn turns to him and Liam scrapes up a handful of snow. When Zayn turns back to him he looks confused, and Liam grins at him before cupping Zayn’s cheek with his freehand. Without even thinking, or convincing himself that it’s a bad idea, he presses his lips against Zayn’s.

It’s not a very long kiss. Their lips are chapped and Louis is shouting something at them. Zayn’s nose bumps against his cheek, freezing cold, but everything else about the kiss makes him feel so warm. But then he’s pulling back, taking in Zayn’s surprised, glazed over eyes, and he brings the snow in his hand down on Zayn’s head.

“Sorry, mate,” Liam says, backing away from him. “Gryffindors have to stick together.”

And then he runs because Zayn is lifting his wand. He hears a spell hit the ground behind him and veers left, heading uphill. When he gets to Louis he offers him a hand up, and Louis says, “About time, you traitor.”

Harry’s pulling out his wand now, too, and Liam releases Louis’ hand and says, “You just had to start a war, didn’t you?”

“Always knew I would,” Louis says solemnly. “Though I figured it’d be over my great ass, not a few well aimed snowballs.”

Niall is already moving closer to the castle, and he turns to them with his eyebrows raised. “Can we talk when we’re not in the line of fire, maybe?”

A four snowballs at once hit Louis’ back and he flinches before nodding. “Good idea.”

Louis is apparently the biggest target because nearly all of the snowballs and spells Zayn and Harry are sending their way are aimed at him. Liam veers right, putting distance between himself and Louis, and heads for the door by the Ravenclaw side of the castle. As much fun as he’s having, he’s cold and he wants to get inside, get off his clothes (now dripping with melted snow) and sit in front of a fire.

He’s a few feet from the door when someone tackles him from behind. His hands break his fall and he tries to roll, but the body stays on top of him, trapping him against the ground. His chin is in the cold snow and it’s that too-cold that kind of burns unpleasantly.

“You use dirty tactics, Payne,” Zayn says. Liam can’t see him, but his breath ghosts along his neck, and he figures that Zayn is bending down, lips close to his skin.

“My chin is cold,” Liam complains.

“Should have thought of that before,” Zayn says, not moving. He’s a solid weight on Liam’s lower back, his hands flat on Liam’s shoulder blades.

“What do you want?” Liam groans, knowing that Zayn isn’t going to let him up for nothing.

“Your scarf,” Zayn says.

Liam frowns down at the snow, lifting his head as much as he can to keep his face out of it. “My-- what, why?”

“Because I lost mine,” Zayn says simply.

“Fine,” Liam agrees. “Just let me up.”

Zayn is off him instantly. Liam groans again and rolls over before pushing himself up. Zayn is grinning at him, hand held out expectantly. Liam fixes his coat first and then tugs off his scarf. Instead of handing it Zayn, he loops it around the back of his neck and uses the edges to pull Zayn closer to him.

“Didn’t just kiss you as a diversionary tactic,” Liam say softly, eyes dropping to Zayn’s lips. They’re still chapped, and he’d never noticed before how full the bottom one is. He sort of wants to nip at it with his teeth.

Zayn licks his lips and Liam lifts his eyes to Zayn’s just as he says, “Really.”

“Maybe,” Liam says quietly. The world is too quiet around them for him to speak loudly. “I sort of want to do it again.”

Zayn’s eyes drop to Liam’s lips and then move back to his eyes. They’re only inches apart, really, and if Liam tugged on the scarf a little bit harder they’d probably be pressed flushed together.

“Okay,” Zayn says softly.

“Okay,” Liam repeats, stepping a bit closer to him. He drops the edges of the scarf and they fall limply against Zayn’s chest.

It’s so awkward for a moment, both of them just standing there. But then Zayn says, very quietly, “Fuck it,” and grabs the front of Liam’s shirt, pulling him in the rest of the way.

This time Zayn’s lips are slick from him licking them, and they slide against Liam’s gently, barely any pressure, as his hand moves to the back of Liam’s neck like he’s trying to hold him in place. Liam’s not complaining at all because, really, he’s realizing now that they definitely should have been doing this forever. Now that he thinks about it, he has no idea why they waited this long.

Zayn pulls back, one hand still cupping the back of Liam’s neck, the other fisted in the front of his shirt, and his eyes flick between both of Liam’s for a short moment that feels really, really long, before he grins and kisses Liam again, this time a lot harder.

It’s cold and the wind is picking up. Liam can feel the flakes of snow hitting his cheeks almost painfully, but he can’t really pay attention to that when Zayn’s tongue is pressing against the seam of his lips insistently. He parts them and Zayn groans as he pushes his tongue into Liam’s mouth. He tastes like citrus, unsurprisingly, and then underneath that is the slightly bitter tang of smoke. Liam can’t get enough of it.

Liam tries to tangle his hands in Zayn’s hair but the gloves make it difficult; he settles for putting them on Zayn’s waist instead, tugging him even closer, not that that’s really possible. There’s so many freaking layers between them, and Liam can’t help the frustrated, needy sound that he makes as Zayn’s tongue curls against his.

Zayn pulls back abruptly, eyes wide. His lips are spit slick from the kiss and he rakes his tongue out to lick over them again. Liam groans and tries to pull him back into another kiss, wondering why he finds that incredibly fucking sexy, but Zayn takes a step back.

“’s cold,” Zayn explains sheepishly. “Inside?”

Liam nods and, after a moment of thought, lifts his hand. Zayn looks down at it, lips spreading into a breathtaking grin, and grabs it with his own.

“Are you really keeping my scarf?” Liam asks as they walk towards the door.

Zayn releases his had to knot the scarf. “You can’t have it back,” he says defensively.

Liam shrugs. “Looks good on you,” he says, because it does. The red looks nice against his skin, and Liam can’t help but think that he likes it much better than the usual blue and bronze tie he wears. “Maybe you should have been a Gryffindor.”

Zayn snorts. “Not likely,” he says, pulling open the door. He holds it for Liam and then steps in after him. “Did you know that I was nearly a hatstall, though?”

“A what?” Liam ask, frowning.

“A hatstall,” Zayn says, “is the term for someone taking more than five minutes to be sorted. Twelve more seconds and I would have been one.”

The castle is impossibly warm compared to outside, and Liam’s limbs all feel weirdly prickly at the sudden change in temperature. His clothes are damp, too, and he really needs to change.

“What other house were you being considered for?” Liam asks while pulling off his gloves.

“Slytherin,” Zayn says darkly, and Liam’s not at all surprised. That’s exactly what he’d been expecting. “Did you know that there hasn’t been a single member of my family in almost a century to be put in a house other than Slytherin? I was the first. My parents weren’t exactly happy.”

Liam frowns. “Why not?”

Zayn shrugs. “Family pride or some shit. I don’t really know, or care.” They pass by a few people who eye their wet clothes warily. “That’s why I’m friends with Harry, though. Our parents have been friends for as long as I can remember. We grew up together, live close enough to each other’s houses that I spent most of my childhood in his backyard.”

They’re in front of the Great Hall now, and they both stop without even discussing it. They’re almost exactly between both of their dormitories, Liam’s to the left, Zayn’s to the right.

“We should probably go back to our dorms and change,” Zayn says, frowning down at himself. They’re both dripping water on the stone floors.

“Probably, yeah,” Liam agrees.

Zayn rocks back on his heels, tugging at Liam’s scarf still around his neck. “So, um, I’ll see you tomorrow. In potions.”

“Are you actually going to sit with me again?” Liam asks, raising his eyebrows teasingly.

Zayn rolls his eyes. “Maybe I won’t, actually.”

Liam grins and Zayn instantly covers the smile with his own lips. Liam’s more than a little surprised, given the fact that they’re definitely not alone in the hall, but it’s not an unwelcome surprise. It’s quick, soft, chaste, and Zayn pulls back a beat later and then turns on his heel and starts towards his dormitory, not turning around once. Liam thoughtlessly brings a finger to his lips and then drops his hand and starts towards his own dorm, wondering if this is going to become a thing . He really, really hopes it does.

Liam doesn’t even notice anyone in the common room as he trudges through it on his way to his room. He pushes open his door to find Louis inside, sitting on his own bed and staring blankly at the wall. Liam grins to himself and shoulders off his jacket, hanging it up by the window so it can dry.

“Why do you look like that?” Louis asks without warning.

Liam turns to see Louis giving him a pensive look. “Why do you look like that?” Liam counters.

Louis’ cheeks go red and he says, “None of your business. And I asked you first.”

“None of your business,” Liam replies while pulling off his shirt. “What happened to Niall?”

Louis falls back onto his bed. He’s already in his pyjamas, and his hair has dried in a chaotic mess. “We were running from Harry when Cher and a few other Hufflepuff girls walked by. He ran after her like a lost, lovesick puppy. It was disgusting.”

“And then you came inside?” Liam asks while kicking off his shoes. He unbuttons his pants next and tosses them into the hamper before pulling open his dresser drawers, reaching for his grey sweatpants.

“Uh, yeah,” Louis says weirdly.

“You don’t sound sure,” Liam tells him.

“I did,” Louis says with more conviction. “Come right in after that, I mean. What about you? I’ve been inside for about ten minutes. What the hell were you doing?”

“Zayn stuff,” Liam says vaguely. For some reason he doesn’t want to tell Louis just yet. He doesn’t think that Louis will let it go that easily, though.

“What Zayn stuff?” Louis asks, just like Liam figured he would.

“I’ll let you know when I figure it out myself,” Liam says, sinking onto his own bed. He yawns. “Quidditch practise tomorrow and Thursday, don’t forget.”

“You are running us hard, you little dictator,” Louis taunts.

“Do you want to lose to Slytherin?” Liam asks, raising his eyebrows.

“Definitely not,” Louis says instantly. “Harold would get all smug about it, and--,”

“Harold? First you team up with him during the snowball fight, now you’re giving him a nickname?” Liam snorts. “If I didn’t know better, I’d--,”

“Finish that sentence and I’ll tell Zayn about that time in third year when you read the entire Hogwarts, A History book just to impress him,” Louis warns.

Liam raises his hands defensively. “Okay, okay.”

“You two are like watching a bad soap opera,” Markus says, making Liam jump.

“How long have you been in here?” Liam asks him, turning to give Louis an incredulous look.

“’bout forty minutes,” Markus says from his bed.

“Huh,” Louis says, cocking his head to the side. “Has anyone ever told you that you’re incredibly fucking creepy? What the hell is wrong with you?”

Markus snorts and says, “I’m not the one who stared at a wall for ten minutes and then asked it whether or not I had feelings for someone.”

“I’m going to bed,” Louis moans, pulling a pillow over his head. His words are muffled by the pillow when he says, “You’re both horrible people and I hate you.”

Liam grins and falls onto his own bed. A moment later Louis mutters something too quietly for him to hear, and the room goes dark. Liam pulls his blankets up around himself and then falls asleep thinking of boys with chapped lips that taste like citrus.




At breakfast the next morning Liam catches Zayn’s eye. He grins, considering waving Zayn over to sit with him, but Zayn’s cheeks flush red and he drops his gaze to his plate. There is a definite soft smile on his face, though.

Louis falls into the seat next to him with a loud, exasperated noise. He’s sweating a bit, and he’s out of breath. There are bags under his eyes, too, and he looks like he’d barely slept at all last night, which might actually be the case considering the fact that his groaning and tossing and turning had kept Liam up far later than he would have liked.

“Hey,” he says with a bit of effort.

“I thought you weren’t coming to breakfast because you had to finish that Defence Against the Dark Arts essay,” Liam says, reaching over Louis to grab the strawberry jam.

“I did,” Louis says. “I just finished it.”

He looks a little weird but Liam can’t pinpoint why. There’s something in the way that he’s holding himself, a bit too rigidly, not nearly as relaxed as he usual is. “Something wrong?” Liam asks.

“What?” Louis says, eyes widening. “No, why?”

Liam frowns at him. “Are you sure?”

Louis throws up his hands dramatically, nearly hitting Liam in the face. “Okay, fine!” he says loudly. “I think Harry Styles is attractive. Are you happy?” He freezes, eyes wide. “Shit, how loudly did I say that?”

Liam looks around but only a few people at their table are looking at them weirdly. “You’re good,” Liam tells him. “But-- what?”

Louis sighs and says, “We were screwing around in the snow after you ran off -- thanks for abandoning me, by the way-- and then he tackled me to the ground, right, and all was fine and dandy until it happened.”

Liam snorts. “ ‘It’ meaning what exactly?”

Louis covers his eyes with his hands and says, rather dramatically, “The boner of doom.”

Liam groans and tosses his half eaten toast away from him. “It’s too early for dooming boners.”

“Fuck off,” Louis hisses. “I don’t think he noticed, but noticed, you know? Like, my body is attracted to him. I’ve never felt so betrayed in my life. Does my penis not realize that he’s a dirty Slytherin?”

“Don’t say penis at breakfast,” Liam orders, sipping his coffee. “You know you’re not allowed to talk about genitalia before noon.”

Louis glares at him but then the doors open and he ducks his head, covering his face with his hand, and hisses, “Oh, god, he’s not looking over here, is he?”

Liam looks up to see Harry’s eyes dart to their table for only a moment before he continues talking with a couple of his housemates. He sits down at the Slytherin table with his back to them. “He’s not looking,” Liam tells Louis.

“Anyways,” Louis says, straightening up, acting like he hadn’t just completely hid from Harry because he got an awkward boner the day before, “I need you to be in the common room right after your last class. And make sure to bring a strand of Zayn’s hair.”

“Why would I need a strand of Zayn’s hair?” Liam asks warily.

Louis waves his hand. “Just get one, okay? And be there. I’ve got to go and-- not be in the same room as Styles. Bye.”

Liam watches him go, once again questioning his choice of friends.




Zayn is already at their table by the time Liam gets to potions. As per usual, he already has his things spread out on the table, just enough room for Liam’s things on the left side. Liam shakes his head and moves towards him, falling into the seat loud enough that Zayn looks up from the book he’s reading.

“Hey,” Liam says almost nervously.

“Hey,” Zayn says easily.

Without any warning Zayn puts a hand on his thigh. It’s warm and light, and Liam can’t stop thinking about it, even as Madam Lovette starts going over the properties of-- some kind of ingredient, he’s really not paying any attention.

Liam licks his lips before picking up his quill. Zayn is merrily writing away like he’s not aware of what he’s doing to Liam right now, even as the hand on his thigh moves up a little higher when Liam shifts in his seat. Zayn’s fingers dig in a bit, squeezing, and Liam sucks in a breath that makes Zayn’s lips curl up.

“What are you doing after you last class?” Zayn asks, not lifting his eyes from his work.

He’s supposed to do something, he just can’t remember what. “Nothing,” Liam says. “Nothing important, anyways. I have Quidditch at six but until then I’m free.”

Zayn grins. “Brilliant. Come to the library with me?”

“Yeah, sure,” Liam says, sort of hoping that they’ll be working on potions because he has a feeling that he’s going to end up failing this class if Zayn makes a habit of touching him when he’s supposed to be paying attention.

Zayn’s hand doesn’t leave him for the rest of the period, and when he walks out of class Zayn is right behind him. He goes to turn left to head for his Care of Magical Creatures class, but Zayn grabs his arm and pulls him in the opposite direction.

“What are we doing?” Liam asks as Zayn pulls him down an only vaguely familiar hallway. He doesn’t have any issues with skipping class, he just never figured Zayn to be the type to do that.

“We have about five minutes,” Zayn explains, still tugging him forward. He takes a sudden left, pulls open a door, and drags Liam inside an empty classroom that looks like it hasn’t been touched in months.

Liam spots a familiar piece of red and gold fabric sticking out of Zayn’s back pocket as Zayn releases his hand and moves towards on of the desks. He jumps on it, effectively hiding what Liam knows is his own scarf.

Liam walks over to him, raising his eyebrows. “You still haven’t explained what we’re doing.”

Zayn sighs and leans forward, grabbing Liam’s tie. He spreads his legs wide enough that, when he tugs Liam in, there’s just enough room for Liam’s body between them.

“See,” Zayn says, eyes on his fingers, which are deftly undoing the knot in Liam’s tie, “I’ve been waiting for you to open your eyes for about four years and make a move, but you never did. And now that you have, I sort of don’t want to stop touching you.”

Liam pulls back suddenly, eyes wide. “Wait, you--?”

“Don’t make a big deal of it,” Zayn says quietly. “Okay?”

Liam shakes his head, confused. “I didn’t realize--,”

“We’ve got about three minutes,” Zayn says, cutting him off again. “Do you really want to spend that time talking?”

Yes, but also no. He wants to know if Zayn is serious, if he really, truly had liked Liam that whole time. But then, at the same time, Zayn’s lips look soft and inviting, and he’s having issues forming coherent thoughts anyways.

Zayn grins and tugs him forward by the now loose ends of his tie and brings their lips together. Liam leans forward, hands braced on the desk beside Zayn’s hips, and Zayn’s hands drop to his waist, fingers bunching up the material of his sweater. Liam’s the one who deepens the kiss this time, parting his lips with enough force to push Zayn’s open, too. He licks into Zayn’s mouth, searching for that tang of citrus and smoke; his head spins when he finds it, and Zayn makes a soft sound and pushes forward on the desk a bit so he’s almost hanging off the edge, his legs wrapping around Liam’s waist.

But then Zayn’s legs drop, he pushes on Liam’s shoulders, and he slides off the desk. “See you after class, Liam,” he says, heading for the door. He pulls open the door and, with one last grin for Liam, closes it behind himself.

“Fuck,” Liam breathes, reaching for his tie. He quickly reties it, adjusts himself in his pants, prays that the semi he’s sporting isn’t obvious, and then hurries out the door and towards his next class.

His mind just isn’t into his class after that scene in the abandoned classroom, though, even though Care of Magical Creatures happens to be his favourite class normally. He’s still not exactly sure what he wants to go into after school, but he’s narrowed it down to either some kind of vet or healer. The only other thing that’s ever caught his attention is playing Quidditch, but he doubts he’s good enough to make a career of it.

It’s snowing again by the time his class if over, and Liam moves to ties his scarf tighter around his neck before remembering that he doesn’t have it anymore. He doesn’t really mind, either.

Normally he’d head up to his common room after CoMC, take off his coat, and then lounge around in the common room for a bit. Instead he heads straight for the library. Zayn’s not waiting for him at the doors but Liam wasn’t really expecting him to be. He pushes them open and makes his way through the aisles, heading for the table they sat at yesterday.

Zayn’s not there, either, but Liam knows he will be. He shoulders off his jacket, hangs it up on the back of his chair, and sits down. The library is so quiet compared to his common room, and within a few minutes the stuffy, silent atmosphere has his eyelids drooping. He closes them, figuring he’ll just nap until Zayn gets here.

When he blinks his eyes back open he knows that he slept for a while. It takes effort to blink the sleep out of his eyes, and when he does they land on Zayn, who’s sitting across from him, head bent over a book.

“Hey,” Liam says, voice cracking a bit. “How long was I out?”

Zayn shrugs. “Only about half an hour, I think. I didn’t want to wake you.”

Liam yawns and stretches. “You should have.”

Zayn shrugs and puts down his quill, pushing away from the table while he does so. “I need to get a book for this paper,” Zayn says, standing up. “Come with me?”

Liam nods and yawns once more before pushing away from the table. Zayn starts leading him through the aisles once again, walking with determine purpose. “Do you have the layout of this whole place memorized?” Liam can’t help but ask.

Zayn slows down a bit and shrugs. “Maybe.” He suddenly stops and searches a row of books, and then reaches up high to pull down a rather large volume that’s coated in dusts. He cracks it open and reads the index before sighing. “I thought it’d be a short chapter but apparently not. Might as well sit down.”

Liam nods and falls to the ground, spreading his legs out in front of him. Zayn sits down across from him, legs crossed, hunched over the book, which he laid out in front of him. Liam leans his head back against the shelf behind him. It’s not exactly comfortable, but he’s not going to complain. Honestly, he’s weirdly happy to just sit here and listen to the soft sound of Zayn turning pages every once in a while.

“Liam,” Zayn says quietly. “Come here.”

Liam blinks open his eyes and moves over to his side of the aisle. Zayn sits up a bit straighter and pats his lap, and Liam looks down at it for a long moment before laying down, his head in Zayn’s lap. He closes his eyes again, this time a lot more comfortable. Zayn’s cologne or body spray or whatever it is surrounds him, and his hand absently scratches at Liam’s scalp as he continues to read. This close up Liam can hear the way he quietly reads out loud to himself, so softly that if he couldn’t see Zayn’s lips forming the words, he’d think that Zayn was just blowing out air too loudly.

“Did you know,” Zayn says quietly, “that in the eighteenth century, Quidditch was banned from Hogwarts for four months because the headmaster at the time thought that it created more tensions between the houses, and thought that it was the sole cause of the riff between Slytherins and Gryffindors?”

Liam doesn’t open his eyes, but he grins up at Zayn. “Why did it get reinstated?”

“Students started protesting classes,” Zayn answers. “Apparently they went so far as to ban together outside the door to his office. They refused to be moved or to go to class, and there were too many of them for him to expel them all. After four days he finally relented.”

“Should have expected that, really,” Liam says. “Banning Quidditch. That’s insane.”

Zayn snorts but is quiet again for a while. Fingers move over Liam’s eyebrows and down his cheeks, and then they ghost over his lips. Liam grins and licks out his tongue and Zayn yanks his hand back before wiping it on Liam’s sweater.

“Did you know that, statistically speaking, seven out of ten Hogwarts Quidditch captains go on to play the sport professionally,” Zayn says, tracing Liam’s collarbone gently.

“Really?” Liam asks, surprised.

“Apparently,” Zayn answers. “What about you? You planning on becoming a big shot athlete, Liam?”

Liam snorts and shakes his head. “Not likely,” he says. “Didn’t think it was realistic, honestly. I’m not that good.”

“I think you sell yourself short,” Zayn tells him.

Liam ignores him. “What about you? What are your plans after graduation?”

He feels Zayn shrug. “I either want to teach or be Minister of Magic.” Liam snorts but Zayn says, “I’m serious.”

Liam blinks open his eyes and tilts his head a bit, about to tell Zayn that he thinks he could honestly do it, if he really wanted to. Zayn’s got a sort of set determination that’s almost a bit frightening. But then he realizes for the first time just how close he is to Zayn’s dick, and his thoughts sort of drift away as he licks his lips nervously and looks up at Zayn, praying that his thoughts aren’t completely transparent.

“I think it’s almost time for dinner,” Zayn says, looking down at him.

Liam nods and sits up. Zayn shuts his book and keeps it in his hands as he stands up. He starts heading back down the aisle as Liam scrambles to get up and follow him. Just like earlier, he spots his scarf in Zayn’s back pocket, but this time he jogs to catch up with him and tugs at it.

“Scarves are supposed to go around your neck,” Liam informs him, grinning widely.

Zayn flushes red and walks a little faster. “Shut up.”

“Are you going to wear it at the game on Friday?” Liam asks.

Zayn glares at him. “No, I’ve got a whole green and silver outfit picked out, actually.”

Liam raises his eyebrows as they approach the table with Zayn’s things. Zayn adds the new book onto the older pile, and Liam steps up behind him, crowding Zayn up against the desk, hands on either side of his body. “I’d like it if you wore it,” Liam says against Zayn’s neck.

Zayn pushes back against him and turns. Just like earlier he reaches for Liam’s tie, but this time he tugs it all the way off. “Are you getting possessive on me?” Zayn asks, tucking the tie into Liam’s pocket.

Liam shakes his head, no. “I just like you in red.”

Zayn snorts and undoes his own tie, and then he wraps it around Liam’s neck, under the collar of his shirt, and he ties it quickly. “I like you in blue,” he says before turning back around to gather up his books. Liam takes half of them from him and Zayn rolls his eyes but grins at that.

They make their way back through the library, and when they get out the door Liam starts to head towards the Great Hall. Zayn, on the other hand, turns in the opposite direction. “Sorry,” he says. “I’ve got to drop these off in my room. See you later?”

Liam wants to offer to come with him, but he’d feel needy and clingy if he did, so instead he nods and heads towards the Great Hall. He forgets about wearing Zayn’s tie until he sits down beside Niall and Louis, and they both give him weird looks.

“How dare you,” Louis gasps. He tugs at Liam’s neck. “Get that thing off .”

Liam looks down at Zayn’s tie, which Louis now has his fingers wrapped around. He bats them off and says, “It’s not a big deal.”

“It is a big deal,” Louis says seriously. “You don’t wear other house’s colours, Liam. That’s, like, rule number one of house pride. What is wrong with you?” He pauses and then says, eyes widening, “And I just remembered that I’m upset with you. You were supposed to meet us in the common room after class, but apparently you forgot.”

Liam, about to reach for the green beans in front of him, winces. “I did forget,” he says, turning to Louis. “Shit, sorry. I --,”

Louis waves him off. “Don’t worry about it,” he says easily. He smirks. “Obviously you were too caught up with a certain Ravenclaw to remember. And I’ve decided to go with a different tactic anyways. But I’m going to have to miss Quidditch practise tonight.”

Liam’s eyes narrow. “No way,” he says instantly. “We have a game at the end of the week, we can’t afford for you to--,”

“Exactly!” Louis says, slapping his hand on the table. “That’s exactly what the Slytherins will be thinking. There’s no way I could be anywhere but at practise, which is why it’s a perfect time to do this.”

“To do what?” Liam asks, baffled.

“Use polyjuice potion to sneak into the Slytherin common room. The list says that he has to spend at least half an hour in there like that, and if he gets caught it doesn’t count,” Niall explains through a mouth of pork chop. Liam grimaces at him. Niall swallows and adds, “It’s a good idea, doing it when they’d least expect it.”

“Thank you, Niall,” Louis says, looking genuinely flattered.

“Go fuck yourself,” Niall says, forking up another bite of his pork chop.

Liam ignores them because the door to the Great Hall opens and Zayn comes in, head bent down as he talks to one of his housemates. She’s very obviously trying to explain something to him, but he lifts his head and catches Liam’s eyes and grins at him, and Liam has a feeling that he doesn’t hear a single word that his housemate says.

“Really?” Louis says loudly. “Are you really going to space out every time your boyfriend is in the room? Are you really going to be that person, Liam?”

Liam pulls his eyes away from Zayn and frowns. “What?”

Louis slaps him on the back of the head. “I’m very happy that you and Zayn are together, but--,”

“We’re not,” Liam says quickly. “Together, I mean. We haven’t-- we’re not.”

“Look, he’s nervous,” Niall says, pointing his fork at Liam. “That’s adorable. I think I’m going to throw up.”

Liam throws a bun at him.




Come Friday they’ve managed to check a total of eleven things off the list, and Liam plans on checking off another one. He’s more than a little hyped up and ready, dressed in his Quidditch robes, broom in hand, as he waits for the rest of his team mates to file onto the field. Louis is beside him, always early, bouncing on his feet impatiently.

The stands are filling with people. Half the stands are decked out with red and gold banners, people waving Gryffindor flags. The others are covered in green and silver. Liam thinks that there might be more red and gold but that could just be wishful thinking.

“Right,” Liam says when everyone is huddled together. “I don’t just want to win tonight. I want us to--,”

“Destroy them,” Louis says loudly. “Crush them. I want Styles in tears by the end of this. I want --,”

“Louis,” Liam groans.

“Sorry,” Louis say sheepishly.

“Anyways,” Liam continues, careful to meet the eyes of each of his team mates, “I know we can do this. We’re far better than they are. That’s not cockiness, that’s a fact. And as long as we all remember that, and play as best as we can, there’s no possible way that they’ll stand a chance.”

The seven of them huddle closer and Markus slaps Liam on the back before raising his fist in the air and shouting, “To destroying Slytherin!”

“To the best captain!” Carla adds, grinning so widely at him that it almost looks painful.

“To punching Harry Styles in the face despite the fact that we’re all obviously attracted to him!” Louis adds, pumping the air.

Markus and Liam are the only ones who look like they’re going to argue this. Both Carla and Malarie shrug and nod their heads. Liam sighs deeply. “Just get into positions, everyone.”

When both teams are in position the referee releases the four balls, blows her whistle, and then the game begins.

“And they’re off!” Niall’s voice booms through the crowd. Liam grins to himself as he moves towards his goals. Why they still allow Niall to do commentary, he has no idea. He’ll swear at least once during the course of the game, not to mention the fact that Niall clearly picks favourites, and he’ll likely be dissing the Slytherin team the whole time. “Carla Macintosh of Gryffindor moving towards the Slytherin goal. Nearly taken out by a bludger sent her way from Alvin Tanner.”

Liam tunes him out, mostly. If he worries too much about the rest of the players he’ll get too distracted from what he’s supposed to be doing. Louis whizzes by his head at one point but Liam’s too busy searching the stands closest to him. He can’t see that far in the distance, but he doesn’t need to because Zayn’s in the stand closest to him, standing at the front. He wasn’t kidding. He’s in a green and silver coat -- he probably borrowed it from Harry-- and there’s green and silver painted stripes on his cheeks. But he’s wearing Liam’s scarf and very obviously grinning at him.

Liam shakes his head and gets back into the game.




They win with a 170 point lead. Louis, of course, catches the snitch. Liam never had any doubts that he would. Louis isn’t his seeker because they’re best friend. Louis is his seeker because he’s really fucking good at it.

The crowd erupts into cheers, and Liam lands on the pitch not far from his team. Louis jumps on his back and waves his snitch in the air as the rest of their team engulfs them both in a hug. Liam can’t stop grinning, and he feels that familiar rush of adrenaline that always lasts even after the game ends.

“Party in the common room!” Louis shouts. He slides off Liam’s back, grabs Liam roughly by the sides of the face, and kisses him on the forehead before pulling back and running off to pick Carla up in his arms until she punches him hard enough on the shoulder that he drops her.

By the time Liam’s got his team’s brooms away, the stands are cleared and everyone’s heading back for the castle. Liam lags behind a bit, shivering as the cold air freezes the sweat that dampens his skin and his uniform. A few Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs congratulate him, and a group of Slytherins sneer at him. Liam only grins in response.

He tries to spot Zayn in the crowd of people moving towards the castle but he can’t. Either he’s already inside or he’s lost in the sea of people wearing Slytherin colours.

When he gets inside he doesn’t follow along with the rest of the Gryffindors. Instead he heads for the Prefects Bathroom on the fifth floor. He’s cold from the weather, sweaty from the game, and he just wants to relax. He can’t do that in his own common room, and plus, this is sort of part of his ritual. If he loses a game -- which has only happened three times in total since he’s been on the team-- he’d go straight up to bed. But they won and everyone else is celebrating, and he wants to as well, just in his own way.

When he gets to the door of the prefects bathroom he says, “Rose oil.” The door swings open, revealing the large room. One side of the room is completely covered in stain glass windows. Against the other wall is the stalls. There’s also a shelf with clean towels and shampoos and soaps. The main focus of the room is, of course, the impossibly large bathtub that, really, is more of a small swimming pool.

Liam heads for the tub, bending down to turn on the water to begin filling it. He twists the knobs for the citrus smelling bubbles -- which he only uses after a game because they’re relaxing, but if he uses them every day they won’t be a special occasion thing-- and then tugs off his shirt.

By the time he’s undressed the tub is nearly filled to the top. He has just enough time to grab a towel and place it beside his discarded clothes, along with the vanilla soap and the strawberry shampoo that he likes the best, before he has to shut the water off to keep it from overflowing.

Liam steps into the tub, wading out to the middle. He crosses to the other side because there’s a bench seat there, and he sits with his head tilted back, willing the warm water to relax his muscles. He’s still got that ridiculous grin on his face, but he can’t help it. He’s just happy . Completely, perfectly happy.

He closes his eyes and rests his arms on the sides of the tub, letting the gentle waves of the water lull him almost to sleep.

Eventually he opens his eyes and finishing bathing before getting out, towelling off, and getting dressed. He heads for his dormitory, passing by only the occasional person in the hallway. Most people are either back in their own common rooms or, more likely, back at his .

Just as expected, when he pushes open the door to the Gryffindor common room he has to cover his ears to drown out the music, the shouting, and the singing. The room itself is fairly large, but it feels really, really small to him at that moment, trying to push past the sea of bodies so he can get to his room and change.

He spots Louis on his way, standing on top of the sofa and dancing with Niall, whose cheeks are a bit too flushed to be just from the dancing. Either Louis broke out the leftover Fire Whiskey from the other night, or someone else had gotten bottle of something.

Liam finally makes it to the stairs and climbs them, pushing open the door to his room and closing it instantly behind himself to drown out as much of the noise as he can. He tugs off his shirt and tosses it in the hamper before realizing that he’s not alone.

“Louis let me in,” Zayn explains. He’s spread out on Liam’s bed, a book beside him. He’s still got the green paint on his cheeks, too, and Liam’s scarf around his neck even though he’s inside, and it’s obviously too hot to need it.

“With those colours on your face?” Liam asks, raising his eyebrows.

Zayn frowns and then absently wipes at his cheeks. “I forgot about that,” he admits, grinning. “Did it mostly to spite you.”

Liam snorts and pulls open his dresser, grabbing out a clean t-shirt. He also pulls out his sweatpants and then remembers that he’s not alone. He’s in a room with the guy his interested in/sort of seeing but technically not dating. What is the etiquette for this kind of thing?

“Um, do you mind if, I--?” Liam waves a hand, not finishing his sentence.

Zayn chuckles and covers his eyes. “Go on, I’m not going to peek.”

Liam flushes and quickly tugs off the rest of his uniform before pulling on his clean sweatpants. He tosses them in the hamper, too, and then falls onto the bed beside Zayn, jostling him. Zayn lowers his hand and closes his book, placing it on Liam’s side table.

“Want to go downstairs and join the party?” Liam asks, crossing his arms behind his head. Zayn’s laying on his side, facing him, and Liam’s laying on his back.

“Not really,” Zayn says honestly. He plays with the string of Liam’s sweatpants, and Liam sucks in a bit, almost holding his breath until he realizes what he’s doing and stops. “Rather stay up here with you.”

Liam rolls onto his side, too, but Zayn’s eyes are on his hands, which are still lightly tugging at the string. “Okay,” Liam agrees. “Did you have fun at the game?”

Zayn lifts his eyes to Liam’s and snorts. “Sports aren’t really my thing. You look sort of hot in your uniform, though.”

Liam tries not to react to that, but he figures he fails pretty badly. “You didn’t enjoy any of it?” Liam asks, brushing his thumb against Zayn’s cheek to wipe away the last of the green paint.

“It wasn’t terrible,” Zayn admits with a shrug. “Just not really my thing, you know?”

“What is your thing?” Liam asks, sliding his fingers down Zayn’s arm and then back up again, over and over until he can see the goosebumps that break out on Zayn’s skin.

“I don’t know,” Zayn says, frowning down at his hands which are still tugging at the string of Liam’s pants, not hard enough to undo the knot there, though. “I’d rather read a good book in front of a fire than sit out in the cold stands.”

“So you’re not coming to my game against Hufflepuff in February, then?” Liam teases.

“No, I’ll be there,” Zayn says. “I’m just going to bring a book and I’ll only look up when everyone starts cheering your name, which happens quite a bit, actually. Are you aware of that?”

“Not really,” Liam says. “I mean, I am sometimes, but I mostly just tune everyone out or else I get really freaked out and nervous.”

“You know,” Zayn says slowly, looking up at Liam through his lashes, “we’re sort of a power couple. I mean, you’re the captain of the best Quidditch team in school -- don’t tell Harry I said that, he’d disown me-- and I’m top of all of my classes. Not to mention the fact that you’re fairly popular and I’m also a prefect.”

“Is that what we are?” Liam asks, feeling that familiar excitement he gets during a game despite the fact that the game ended over an hour ago. “A couple.”

Zayn sits up suddenly, a deeply embarrassed look on his face. “I just thought that-- we-- I--,”

Liam grabs Zayn’s hand and tugs him back down. Zayn sort of sprawls out half on top of him, half on the bed. He blinks down at Liam, confusion and surprise on his face; Liam grins at him and says, “Hi.”

Zayn gives him an incredulous look. “You’re insane.”

Liam runs a hand through Zayn’s hair. It is definitely as soft as he always thought it would be. “In a good way or a bad way?”

Instead of answering him, Zayn dips his head a bit and presses his lips to Liam’s. He can still faintly hear the noise of everyone in the common room below, and he knows that at any minute someone could walk in. He just really, really doesn’t care, which is why he puts a hand on Zayn’s shoulder and flips them over so Zayn’s on his back and Liam is fully on top of him, legs on either side of Zayn’s body.

“Is this okay?” Liam asks, pushing himself up on his elbows.

Zayn nods quickly and pulls Liam back in for another kiss, this time open mouthed. Zayn’s fingers slip under the back of Liam’s t-shirt, nails dragging along his spine. Liam shudders and arches into the touch, hips grinding down against Zayn’s without him even meaning to.

Zayn’s tongue pushes into his mouth, and Liam lets his eyes fall closed, getting lost in the gentle, lazy kiss. There’s nothing overtly heated about it. It’s just a warm, nice simmer, the way Zayn’s tongue moves against his, and his hands slide over Liam’s back like he’s trying to memorize the way the muscles shift under his touch.

Zayn’s lips move from his mouth, over his jaw, and then to his neck. He can’t even think to complain about the mark that he knows is going to be there after Zayn’s done sucking on his skin, mostly because Zayn’s hands are grabbing his ass, moving their bodies closer together. He might be embarrassed about how obvious it must be that he’s definitely hard, given the thin material of his sweatpants, but Zayn gasps against his skin and jerks his hips up, and Liam doesn’t really see any reason to be.

Zayn pushes on his shoulders without warning, and Liam has no choice but to sit up so that he’s kneeling on the bed, Zayn between his legs. “Too much clothing,” Zayn explains, sitting up only enough to tug off his shirt. He tosses it off the bed somewhere and then pulls at the hem of Liam’s, a question in his eyes. Liam nods and pulls it off himself, letting his shirt fall off the side of the bed. Zayn’s eyes move over his skin and he says, “Of course you have abs.”

Zayn doesn’t, not really, but he’s covered in tattoos. Liam didn’t know he had quite that many. Sure, he knew about the ones on his arms, and he suspected there were a few under the collar of his shirt, he just didn’t expect so many. “I’m a bit rebellious,” Zayn admits. “But there’s a reason for each of them.”

Liam nods, eyes dropping to the heart on his hip. “I want to learn them all sometime,” Liam tells him, biting on his lip. “Can I--?” He doesn’t really know what he’s trying to say here, but he wants to know what Zayn’s skin tastes like, and he wants to lick over the heart on his hip just to see how Zayn reacts.

“I-- yeah,” Zayn says breathlessly, falling back against Liam’s pillows. “You can-- yeah. Whatever you want, Li.”

Liam blinks at him because fuck . He licks his lips and moves down Zayn’s body, just a bit, and then looks up at him as he licks his tongue over the dark ink on his hip. Zayn sucks in a breath and bites down on his lip, leaning up on his elbows so he can hold Liam’s gaze.

“W-wait,” Zayn says shakily. Liam pulls up and Zayn digs into his pants, pulling out his wand. He points it at the door and says, “Colloportus.” Liam raises his eyebrows and he says, “I just thought it would be a good idea to make sure that it was locked.”

Zayn reaches over and drops his wand on the bedside table. Liam pulls his out and does the same because that’s probably a really good idea, lest they accidentally roll over and break them.

Liam moves back up Zayn’s body and kisses him again, this time with purpose, his hips moving against Zayn’s with more than helpless abandonment. Zayn’s hands are hopelessly trying to grab at his hair despite the fact that it’s not long enough to grip in his fingers.

“Fuck, Liam,” Zayn gasps into the kiss. “Trying to kill me?”

Liam groans at him because that is pretty freaking hypocritical, given the way that Zayn’s pushing up against him, and the soft sounds he keeps making that seem to go straight to Liam’s dick.

He leans heavily on one hand so he doesn’t drop all his weight on Zayn, and then his moves a hand up Zayn’s side, over his ribs, and then back down. He moves that hand between their bodies, over his stomach, and Zayn’s eyes widen before he squeezes them closed and says, “Are you going to tease me the whole night?”

“Maybe,” Liam says. He likes the flush in Zayn’s cheeks, and the fact that he put it there.

Zayn opens his eyes again and grabs Liam’s waist before pushing him over and crawling on top of him. He moves his hands over Liam’s arms and then circles his fingers around Liam’s wrists and leans down on them, affectively trapping Liam’s arms to his sides.

He bends down and gently bites at Liam’s jaw before saying, “I’m sort of a bit of a control freak.” He punctuates the words with a roll of his hips.

“I’m sort of okay with that,” Liam replies honestly. He could get used to this, Zayn on top of him, looking down at him with heavily lidded eyes, bottom lip caught between his teeth, chest heaving.

Someone knocks on the door, and Liam turns his head towards it, eyes wide. “Liam,” Louis calls. “You still in there with Zayn?”

Liam goes to sit up but Zayn grins and shakes his head. He releases on of Liam’s wrists and brings a finger up to his own lips, gesturing for Liam to be quiet. “Tell him I left,” Zayn orders.

Liam frowns and whispers, “Why?”

Zayn shakes his head and moves down Liam’s body, kissing his chest. His lips are slick and warm, and they continue down a bit father. “Tell him,” Zayn says against his skin.

“Liam!” Louis calls again.

“I-- I’m trying to sleep,” Liam shouts back.

“Really?” Louis asks, as Zayn gets to Liam’s stomach. He licks at the indents there and Liam watches him, breath catching in his throat because of the way Zayn looks up at him with a wicked glint in his eyes. “I didn’t see him leave.”

“He, uh--,” Zayn boldly rubs him through his sweatpants, and Liam’s brain stops working. His lips brush down the trail of hair below Liam’s bellybutton and go lower, before his tongue slides along the waistband of Liam’s sweatpants. “Fuck.”

“What was that?” Louis -- fucking Louis-- questions.

“Nothing,” Liam says shakily. “Zayn, um, he left. A while ago. We -- we got in a-- in a fight--fuck .”

Zayn grins up at him, the string of Liam’s sweatpants caught between his teeth, completely untied now. Liam would be impressed if he wasn’t so desperate for Zayn to do something other than grin down at him.

“You don’t have to be rude ,” Louis snaps. “Swearing at me. I just wanted to see if the two of you wanted to come down to the party, but obviously you’re upset because of a fight with your boyfriend.”

“Is this okay?” Zayn asks quietly, hooking his fingers under Liam’s pants.

Liam nods furious while saying, “Sorry, Louis. I’m just trying to sleep.”

Zayn tugs down his sweatpants and then watches for Liam’s reaction as he grips him through his boxers. There’s too much material between his hand and Liam’s skin, but Liam knows that he could get off like this no problem if Zayn kept looking at him like that.

“Why do you sound so breathless?” Louis asks.

Liam groans loudly and considers grabbing his wand and unlocking the door, letting Louis walk in just so he’d get embarrassed and run away. Except, knowing Louis, he’d probably stand there in the hallway and laugh at them until Zayn awkwardly got up and left, and then Liam would really have to kill him.

“Are you masturbating, Liam?” Louis asks abruptly.

Zayn covers his mouth to smother a laugh while Liam goes red. But then Zayn’s nodding his head pointedly. Liam shakes his own, no, but Zayn raises his eyebrows and pulls back the elastic waistband of Liam’s boxers and releases it so it snaps against his skin.

“I-- yes, okay? I’m -- I’m masturbating, go away,” Liam says, wincing.

Louis, on the other side of the door, laughs and says, “Sorry. I’ll, um, leave you to it. Uh-- good luck. Have fun.”

Liam covers his face with his hand, and Zayn snorts out a laugh. “It’s not funny,” Liam moans. “He’s going to tease me about that for at least a week. I hope you’re happy.”

Zayn’s hand is just above his knee, and he moves it up slowly. “I’ll make it up to you,” Zayn promises, kissing his hip.

Liam drops his hand from his face so he can look down at Zayn, whose eyes are on Liam’s erection, which is more than prominent in the thin, clingy material of his boxers. He licks his lips and Liam literally moans because Zayn isn’t going to ruin him. He’s already completely, totally ruined.

Zayn tugs down the left side of Liam’s boxers and then bites at the skin there. Liam curls his fingers in his blanket, waiting, but then Zayn’s moving up his body and pressing their lips together. Liam lets out an embarrassing sound, desperately needing more than just Zayn’s jean clad hips grinding against him.

“I really, really want to blow you,” Zayn says, pulling back just a bit. “But I seriously need you to touch me. Rain check?”

Liam nods, taking that as a good ahead to reach between them and unbutton Zayn’s jeans. He pushes Zayn onto his side, and Zayn shucks them off himself, and then he removes his boxers, too; Liam fumbles to do the same.

There’s something intoxicating about Zayn’s skin. Liam wants to memorize the feeling of it under his fingertips. He wants to trace every inch of it with his tongue. He just-- he just wants Zayn so freaking much, and it sort of hits him like a train all at once and steals his breath.

“Liam,” Zayn says softly, and Liam looks up at him to see something insecure in Zayn’s eyes. “Can you kiss me again, maybe?”’

Liam nods and moves forward until their lips are brushing. It’s almost sweet, and Liam realizes that, as bold as Zayn had been, he’s going to have to make the first move here. So he does, hand sliding over Zayn’s waist, and then he wraps a hand around him. It’s not like this is his first time intimately touching someone else. It’s just that he hadn’t ever been with someone else that made him feel so completely desperate for it.

“Fuck,” Zayn hisses against Liam’s lips. His eyes are closed and his nails dig into Liam’s skin before he mimics Liam’s actions and grips him loosely. Zayn hesitantly moves his hand over Liam’s cock, like he’s not quiet sure, but then his grip tightens and he moves faster. His hands have always felt slightly calloused and rough, but Liam had never noticed how much of a positive that was until now, because for some reason it makes it so much better.

Zayn’s panting into his mouth now, as Liam works him over with his hand, trying to make it as good as possible, forcing himself not to forget to move when Zayn twists his wrists just right or thumbs over the head and makes Liam’s mind go blank. He doesn’t even notice the noise from outside the door anymore. There is only Zayn, the soft sounds he’s making, and Liam’s own breathing and smothered moans.

Liam leans forward and bites on Zayn’s shoulder as he comes. Zayn strokes him through it before his hand stutters to a stop and he tenses beside Liam. Liam keeps going even as Zayn shudders and comes over his fingers, until Zayn whimpers out, “Too much, Li--,”

Liam kisses him again and then rolls onto his back and tries to steady his breathing. His heart is racing, and he figures he looks pretty fucking wrecked considering that’s exactly how he feels. At least Zayn looks just as fucked out as he feels. His hair is a mess and it lays flat against his forehead, damp with sweat. His cheeks are fever red and his eyes are bright.

“Louis called me your boyfriend,” he says quietly.

Liam chuckles and kisses him again.




The letter comes at breakfast the next morning. Liam is so out of it, far too caught up in the memory of everything that had happened the day before to even notice the way Louis keeps making masturbation jokes, or Niall keeps nudging his ribs and waggling his eyebrows (because of course Niall knows that Liam wasn’t alone last night, because Niall is weirdly all knowing sometimes). It isn’t until the owl swoops far too closely to his head and drops an envelope right on top of his eggs that he stops pushing them around on his plate and replaying the way Zayn gasped into his mouth in his mind.

Liam frowns down at the familiar handwriting on the front, and he wonders why his parents could possibly be sending him a letter when he’s heading back home in less than week for Christmas holidays.

He rips open the envelope and scans the words quickly. There is a part of him that is genuinely happy for his parents, but a much larger part of him that is more than a little upset for himself.

“What’s wrong?” Louis asks.

Liam shakes his head and carefully returns the letter to the envelope before stuffing it in his pocket for safekeeping. “Nothings wrong, really. My dad recently got a bonus at work, and they’re going to use the extra money to go on a honeymoon to Jamaica that they’ve been trying to save up enough for.”

“When?” Louis questions, though Liam can tell by the look on his face that he already knows.

“During the holidays, obviously,” Liam says. “It’s the only time they both have off work. They were sending me a letter to ask if it’s okay if I stay here. They said that they wouldn’t have any issues cancelling if I really wasn’t okay with it, but I can tell that they would be, you know? Like, they’d still be happy and cheerful but deep down they’d always sort of resent me for it.”

“So you’re staying here then,” Niall guesses.

Liam nods. “Yeah.”

“Brilliant!” Louis says happily. Liam gives him an incredulous look, but Louis continues quickly with, “Sorry, it’s just that my mum wanted to drag me to visit the husband’s home town to visit his family. The town has a population of less than two thousand, not to mention the fact that I’d be stuck sharing a room with one of his family members. And they live on a farm , Liam. But now I can just stay here with you instead.”

Liam knows that Louis’s serious. He’ll be upset about not seeing his sisters the whole time, because Louis loves his sisters more than anything. But he also really, really dislikes his step dad, and also farms, so him not going is probably best for everyone involved.

“You’ll stay with me?” Liam asks anyways.

Louis nods solemnly. “I wouldn’t abandon you on the holidays, make you stay here all by yourself while Niall and I went home to our loving mothers.”

Liam’s gut twists. “Thanks, that makes me feel so much better about the whole thing.”

Louis throws an arm over his shoulder. “It’s okay, we can cry together, Liam. It doesn’t make us any less manly.”

“I need new friends,” Niall grumbles.

“Hey,” Liam says, pushing Louis away from him. “That’s my line.”

“It’s true,” Louis puts in. “He has it trademarked and everything.”

“Hey, Louis,” someone says from behind them. Someone with a familiar enough voice that both he and Louis tense. Liam doesn’t have to turn around to know that it’s Harry, not just because he recognizes the voice, but because Harry reaches between him and Louis to snag an apple off their table. “Heard you got drunk last night and spent half an hour asking Leanne if I was a good kisser.”

Louis’ eyes narrow. “You shouldn’t listen to every rumour you hear, Harry, because I recall there being a rumour in fifth year that your dick fell off after you tried to use an enlargement spell on it and that it took you four days in the infirmary to grow it back.”

Harry makes a face at him. “There was never a rumour about that.”

“Actually there was,” Louis say brightly. “I should know because I started it.”

Harry glares at him for a moment while Niall lets out a bellowing laugh, and Liam tries not to join him because the whole thing is sort of mean, even if it is funny. Harry’s lips tilt up in a smirk, though, and he bends down close to Louis as he says, “If you admit that you want me I might just let you decide for yourself whether I’m a good kisser or not.”

Louis goes to throw a sausage at him but Harry’s already walking away, grinning to himself, most likely because it’s pretty obvious that he got to Louis with his words.




The last week before Christmas holidays is always hectic. Their teachers always seem to want to cram every piece of information into them before they leave for two weeks, not to mention the massive amounts of homework they assign that most people try to get done before the holidays, that way they can just relax during their time off. And then there’s the packing and early gift exchanges for everyone who’s leaving on Friday. It seems like everyone is always in a hurry to get somewhere; there’s no leisurely walking through the halls or out on the grounds.

Honestly, this is a good thing for them because it gives him, Louis, and Niall the chance to get four things off the list (including stealing from the kitchen and convince Peeves to help you with a prank) before Niall has to get ready to leave with everyone else.

He doesn’t spend all that much time with Zayn during that week. Definitely as much as he’d like to. It’s just too busy, and in his freetime Zayn is in the library finishing up an essay for both Transfiguration and Charms, and he kicked Liam out for distracting him.

Zayn’s stuck at the castle for Christmas too, though, which he learns on Thursday when he sneaks Zayn food into the library (Zayn scolds him for it but eats it anyways) and tells him that he just wants to spend time with him before he has to leave. Apparently Zayn and Harry have stayed at the castle every Christmas since third year. He wanted to ask why at the time, but he figured that if there was a reason and Zayn wanted him to know it, he would have said so.

Liam tries really, really hard not to be in a bad mood all day Friday. It’s just a little hard, given the fact that everyone else is bundled up in their coats and sweaters and scarves, bags in hand, ready to head home for the next two weeks, and Liam’s not one of them. He loves Hogwarts, he does, but he spends more time a year there then with his parents, and it sucks that he’s not going to see them. Especially considering the fact that he’s never spent the holidays without them before in his life.

“We’ll miss the hell out of you, you Irish little fucker,” Louis says as a way of goodbye to Niall.

Liam hugs him instead and Niall hugs back tightly. “I’m not leaving your presents with you,” he adds. “Tomlinson’ll open them as soon as I’m gone. I’ll have ‘em dropped off on Christmas.”

Louis, who was pulling a wrapped gift out of his pocket, stops and glares at him. “Then you can’t have yours.”

“I won’t open it beforehand,” Niall argues.

Liam rolls his eyes and takes the gift from Louis’ hands and hands it to Niall, as well as his own. “Have a good holiday, Niall.”

“See you idiots in two weeks,” Niall says, trying to balance the new presents and his bags.

Louis flips him off and Niall rolls his eyes and starts heading along the path to Hogsmeade with everyone else. Liam watches him go, but at the last second Louis runs after him and hugs him tight enough that his feet lift off the ground. Liam grins at them.

“Shut up,” Louis says when he gets back.

“You love us,” Liam says, slinging an arm over Louis’ shoulder as they head back to the castle. “Your heart isn’t as icy as you’d like for everyone to think.”

“Possibly,” Louis agrees, leaning into his side. His arm curls around Liam’s waist and he says, “We’ll be fine just the two of us. We can cry over missing our parents and gorge ourselves on sweets.”

“It’s not actually just the two of us,” Liam says very slowly.

Louis freezes, fingers digging into Liam’s hip. “What do you mean?”

“I mean, uh--,” Liam winces and scratches the back of his neck. “Zayn stays at the castle for Christmas. And Harry does as well.”

“You’re not going to ditch me off to suck face with your boyfriend, are you?” Louis demands.

Liam tries not to smile, it’s just a little hard not to every time someone reminds him that, yeah, Zayn is his boyfriend. “No, I wouldn’t do that,” Liam says quickly.

“Okay, good,” Louis says, and they resume walking like nothing happened. “We’ll just extend our twosome to a foursome. No big deal. I won’t even try to stab Harry, just because it’s Christmas time.”

“How charitable of you,” Liam snorts.

“I know,” Louis replies, dramatically swiping a piece of hair off his forehead. “I’m such a philanthropist.”




The first day of Christmas break is eerie. Louis and Liam are the only ones in their room who didn’t leave, and without Markus and Ben there, the room feels weirdly cavernous. There is a total of four Gryffindors staying at the castle, including Liam and Louis. There’s Karen, a fifth year prefect who never bothers to get him and Louis in trouble, though she’s had countless chances to, and Ivan, a sixth year boy who tried out for -- and didn’t make it onto-- the Quidditch team.

Liam has never seen the common room this empty at nine on a Saturday. There should be people on the sofas and the chairs. Tired, groggy students slumping down the stairs. Louis should be on the floor in front of the fire while Markus or maybe Carla attempts to draw on his face. There should be younger students laughing and enjoying the beginning of the weekend. Instead it’s completely quiet and empty, save for Liam and Louis.

“Feels like a graveyard,” Louis whispers.

“Yeah,” Liam agrees, wondering why they’re whispering. He doesn’t stop, though, because it feels necessary. “Downstairs for breakfast?”

Louis nods, wrinkling his nose. “I want to get out of here. It’s creepy.”

If the common room was weird, it is nothing compared to the Great Hall. As is usual this time of year, there are twelve beautifully decorated Christmas trees set up along the room. There are other various Christmas decorations in the Great Hall, as well as the rest of the castle. But the long house tables are nearly completely empty. Usually there’s a collection of plates and food and cups covering every inch of them, but now they’re mostly bare.

“I want to go home,” Louis says quietly, ducking his head.

Liam frowns and feels weirdly cold. It’s just so odd . “Grab food and bring it back up to our room?” Liam suggests.

Louis nods and heads for the Gryffindor table, just as a pair of arms encircle him from behind. “Hey, babe,” Zayn says in his ear. “Guess who’s currently the only Ravenclaw on campus, meaning he has an entire dorm to himself for the next week and a half?”

Liam turns, eyes wide. “Seriously?”

Zayn grins and nods, wrapping his arms around Liam’s neck. “And I’ve finished all of my work, so I don’t have to spend any time in the library either.”

“What the fuck did I say about coupley shit, Malik?” Harry says from behind Zayn.

Liam looks at Harry over Zayn’s shoulder, but Harry’s grinning to soften his words. “Fuck off,” Zayn says to Harry without looking away from Liam. “But seriously, entire dorm. Just us. Over a week.”

Liam rests his forehead against Zayn’s. “I promised Louis I wouldn’t ditch him off.”

“Great,” Zayn says, pulling back. “Louis and Harry can entertain each other while we entertain each other. It’s perfect.”

Liam laughs and shakes his head, hands on Zayn’s waist. He’s aware of the fact that they’re standing just a few feet from the doors, blocking the way for anyone else who comes in. He really doesn’t care all that much, though.

“They’ll end up killing each other,” Liam points out.

Zayn shrugs and leans back in, lips ghosting over Liam’s chin. “I could care less, as long as I get some time alone with you.”

“That’s disgusting,” Louis says.

Liam sighs and releases Zayn, turning to see Harry and Louis both fighting over a pitcher of juice. Harry finally releases it and then turns to them and says, “Plus, we have plans tonight, Zayn.”

“I forgot,” Zayn admits. “Liam and Louis can come with us.”

Louis pauses in the middle of adding a few pieces of toast to a plate that’s already piled high with food. “Plans to do what, exactly?”

Zayn’s hand slides along Liam’s back as he and Harry exchange a wicked look. “You’ll see. Just meet us on the fourth floor by the set of armour underneath the portrait of Helga Hufflepuff at seven thirty.”

Liam frowns because there’s not really anything interesting to do on that floor, and he can’t see why they’d meet there.

“And dress warmly,” Harry adds.

“Don’t tell me how to live my life,” Louis snaps at him.

After that Harry and Zayn move off to eat breakfast at the Slytherin table, along with three of Harry’s housemates. He and Louis finish grabbing food and head up to their room, where they sit on Ben’s bed to eat because Louis says he refuses to get food on his own bed, and Liam doesn’t really want to sleep in crumbs tonight either.

They spend the rest of the day not doing very much. They head down to the Great Hall for dinner and lunch, but other than that they spend their time in their common room, Louis putting anti-inflammable spells on things and throwing them into the fire, Liam practicing a spell for charms that he’d been struggling with. Their housemates spend a bit of time with them, but mostly everyone just does there own thing.

Louis suggests a walk through the castle, and Liam agrees only to kill the boredom. If he were at home right now he’s be catching up on all of the television shows he missed while he was gone. Or he’d be playing video games, or visiting Andy. Here, he doesn’t really have all that much to do. There’s so much downtime and nothing to fill it.

By the time they get back they have just enough time to grab their coats and gloves and, in Louis’ case, a scarf. “What do you think we’re going to be doing?” Louis asks as Liam does up his jacket.

Liam shrugs. “Who knows?”

“If it’s really boring can you and I sneak out onto the Quidditch pitch and take the school brooms out for a ride?”

Liam nods, though he doesn’t think it’ll be boring. The look that had been exchanged between Zayn and Harry seemed to promise that whatever they’d be doing, boring would definitely not be the word to describe it.

When they get to the fourth floor, Harry and Zayn are already there, leaning against the wall as they wait for them. They’re both dressed in their coats and scarves (Harry in a green Slytherin on, Zayn in Liam’s red and gold one).

“Ready?” Harry asks, pushing away from the wall.

Louis looks around and then raises his eyebrows. “For what?”

Harry chuckles but Zayn turns to the suit or armour, knocks in it twice with the tip of his wand, and says, “Sugar quill.” The suit of armour suddenly moves, taking an even stride forward, revealing a hidden passage way behind him.

Liam and Louis gape at it, but Harry just lifts his wand, mutters, “Lumos” and heads inside the passage way. “You coming?” he calls over his shoulder.

Louis glares at his back and hurries after him. Zayn offers Liam a hand and he takes it, letting Zayn guide him inside the passage way. As soon as they’re both inside, the suit of armour steps back into place, blocking off the exit. The only light comes from Harry’s wand, and it does little but illuminate a few paces in front of them.

“Where are we going?” Liam whispers to Zayn.

He can only faintly see Zayn’s answering grin. “It’ll be fun, I promise. Have you ever done side-along apparition before?”

Liam’s eyes widen and he swallows. “No, I haven’t. I failed my apparition test. It freaks me out, and frankly I’d prefer to use a vehicle or a broom.”

Zayn snorts and squeezes his hand. “You’ll be fine, trust me. I’m an expert at it. Remember when we all did our tests last year? The instructor said I was easily one of the best students he’s ever had he privilege of teaching.”

Liam wasn’t kidding about disliking apparition. The travelling from one destination to another purely by focusing on your destination. And it’s really dangerous if you don’t do it well, which is exactly why Liam had failed his test. He made it to the proper destination, but he lost a good chunk of his shoulder doing it, and had to be rushed to the infirmary.

In front of them, Harry and Louis are actually having a civil conversation. Or Liam think it’s civil because neither or them are shouting or hitting each other. He can’t hear what they’re saying, though, and judging my the look on Louis’ face it isn’t exactly a friendly conversation.

The path they’re taking subtly starts curving to the left. They’ve been walking for a while, and Liam has a feeling that they’re no longer on the castle grounds, let alone in the actual castle itself.

“We’re almost there,” Zayn tell him, squeezing his hand again.

“I still don’t know where there is,” Liam says warily.

“This isn’t technically our destination,” Harry says over his shoulder. “This is just a pit stop because you can’t apparate inside the school grounds.”

Liam already knows this from reading Hogwarts, A History in third year. Not that he’d really paid that much attention to it, and admittedly (as Louis likes to tease him about) he’d only done it to impress Zayn, but he remembers reading that part.

“Here we are,” Harry says suddenly.

The wall in front of them ends in a door. Liam can faintly see the light in the room on the other side shining through the cracks. Harry quickly unlocks the door and then pushes it open. They step into what looks like someone’s bedroom.

“We’re above the Three Broomsticks,” Zayn explains.

“Wait, there’s a passageway that leads from the castle to Hogsmeade?” Louis asks, eyes wide. “Why didn’t I know this? This could have come in handy so many times.”

Harry smirks at him. “You don’t know the castle the way that I do. And there’s not passageway to Hogsmeade. There are several.”

Liam is more than a little impressed. They’re not technically allowed to go to Hogsmeade unless it’s during one of the school regulated trips.

“Meet you at the shop,” Zayn tell Harry. He turns to face Liam completely, and he says, “Just don’t freak out and you’ll be fine. I’m good at this.”

“At what?” Louis asks.

“Apparating,” Harry answers. He grabs Louis’ hand and then, without warning, turns and they disappear with an audible pop and a shout from Louis that cuts off when he disappears.

“Louis is going to beat him senseless for that,” Liam says, frowning at the spot that the two of them had just been standing.

“Harry can hold his own,” Zayn says without care. “Ready?”

Liam sucks in a breath and then nods and closes his eyes.

It happens so fast. He feels Zayn being tugged away from him and tightens his grip on his hand, and he suddenly can’t breath at all as the air around him seems to compress on him from every direction. And then it’s over and he can breathe again.

They’re standing in a dingy bathroom. The mirrors are covered in a layer of grime, and Louis has Harry pressed up against a wall, tip of his wand against Harry’s throat.

“No warning at all,” Louis hisses. “And I fucking hate apparition.”

Harry seems to have little concern for the wand at his throat because all he does is roll his eyes and says, “Calm down, Lou, Christ.”

Louis releases him and steps back. “What did you call me?”

Liam rolls his eyes and turns to Zayn. “So where did you take us, exactly?”

Zayn grins and leads him out of the bathroom.

They’re in a small pub. It’s a bit dirty and smoke hangs thickly in the air. Outside the window he sees cars and people streaming by, all bundled up in coats to fight off the cold weather. And he recognizes the street, possibly.

“Are we in London?” he asks, eyes wide.

“Yep,” Zayn says. “So, what do you want to do first?”

Despite the fact that they have no money at all between the four of them, there’s plenty to do. By law they can’t technically use any spells in front of muggles, but Harry’s got a whole pocketfull of sweets and toys from Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes. A Charming Cherrybomb here and Harry gets them into the cinema for free. Another one at the food truck a few hour later and they’ve all got hot chocolate while they walk down the street, surrounded on every side by Christmas lights and music softly playing from whatever stores are still open.

It starts snowing eventually, and it’s getting extremely late. Liam’s honestly having a great time. He could almost consider this a double date, if Louis didn’t kick Harry in the shins or punch him every time he stepped to close. He and Zayn’s hands haven’t been separated from each other’s for more than five minutes at a time since they’ve arrived, and Liam likes that. Likes that Zayn seems just as inclined to keep Liam close to him as Liam is with him.

“One more thing before we go,” Harry says, turning down a side street.

“Tradition,” Zayn tells Liam.

Liam frowns at Harry leads them down another street, and then another, away from the shopping district. Finally he pulls open the door to a small, closed coffee shop with no lights on. Liam frowns as Zayn guides him inside without explanation.

They make their way through the darkened store, door chiming quietly behind them as it closes behind Louis. Harry pulls open a door that leads to the back of the shop, and then continues through the dark room until he gets to another door that, when he opens it, leads to a well lit staircase.

“We won’t be here long,” Zayn promises. “Harry can never stand this place for more than a few minutes.”

Liam frowns, confused, as Harry knocks on the door at the top of the stairs. A moment later it opens and music pours out, deafeningly loud, and Liam knows that someone must have a muffling spell put up, because there’s no way they couldn’t hear that from downstairs.

“Harry!” the guy who answered the door says loudly. “Come on in! Bring your friends!”

Harry wrinkles his nose and shoulders past the guy inside. Louis follows a moment later, side eying the guy who let them in, mostly because the guy gives Louis a very appreciative once over.

When Liam gets inside he realizes they’re… in a club, technically. “There’s another door,” Zayn explains, shouting over the music. “This is technically the back door. The other one is on the opposite street. Looks like an abandoned gas station to muggles.”

Everyone is holding colourful drinks, some that are foaming, some that are steaming. The lights and dizzying and Liam figures that they’re enchanted. The way they play over the room is far too intricate and hypnotic to be done by any machine.

Harry is moving easily through the crowd, Louis right behind him, Zayn and Liam right behind them. He’s heading straight for the bar where a pretty girl is mixing drinks and laughing along with a costumer.

“Gem,” Harry shouts, sinking onto one of the stools by the bar.

The girl behind the bar pauses, eyes widening, and then she turns to one of her coworkers, whispers something, and hops over the bar, sliding to the floor right beside Harry. She wraps him in a tight hug and shouts, “Forgot you were coming today!”

Harry rolls his eyes and pulls a wrapped present out of his pocket, which he hands to her. She takes it and passes it to the other girl behind the counter, the one who has taken her spot in mixing the drinks.

“Is that his girlfriend?” Louis asks, a blank look on his face.

Zayn laughs so hard his face turns red. “No-- no,” he gasps out, and Harry glares at them.

“Who’s this?” The girl-- Gem? Is that what Harry called her?-- asks. She turns to Zayn and Liam and her eyes widen. “Wait, wait, wait. Let me guess. You’re Liam Payne, right?”

Zayn goes red and it’s Harry’s turn to laugh. Liam politely extends his hand and says, “I am. Nice to meet you.”

She shakes it and says, “I’ve heard a great deal about you. This one’s been quite infatuated with you for years, haven’t you, Zaynie?”

“Shut up,” Zayn pleads. “Gemma, please, for the love of God, shut up.”

Gemma winks at him and turns to Louis. “So then who are you?”

“I’m Louis,” he says flatly, eyes narrowing. “And who are you?”

Gemma’s eyes widen and she looks between Harry and Louis before Harry says, “Utter a single word and I’ll tell mum about that time you--,”

Gemma waves a hand and ignores him. “I’m Harry’s sister, Gemma,” she tell Louis, and Louis’ expression goes from cold and slightly rude to shocked and taken aback. “I’ve heard a good amount about you, as well.”

“Come dance with me,” Zayn says abruptly, pulling Liam away before he can even answer. “You don’t want to watch that, trust me.”

“Why, what’s going to happen?” Liam asks, trying to see the three of them over his shoulder, but Zayn’s pulled him too far away for that to be possible.

Zayn gives Liam a sly grin. “I can’t tell you that. Best friend code. Harry would kill me, much like he’s going to kill Gemma any moment now if she doesn’t keep her mouth closed. They fight like cats and dogs, those two. Gemma lives to torment him.”

Liam is extremely confused, to say the least, but Zayn’s turning around, pressing his back against Liam’s front, and he’s swaying along to the music. Whatever’s happening there can wait.

Liam doesn’t really like the club, to be honest. It’s too loud, there are too many people, and the music isn’t anything he’d willingly listen to on his own. But Zayn has an arm snaked around his back, holding Liam against him, and the way he’s moving his hips is enough to make Liam really, really enjoy this.

He can’t help but lean down to press his lips against Zayn’s neck, and Zayn tilts his head back and groans, eyes falling closed. They’re in a sea of people and all Liam wants to do is rip off Zayn’s clothes and taste his skin.

Zayn is suddenly yanked from his arms. Liam grabs his wrist and then he’s being tugged along, too, through the throng of people as Harry shouts, “We’re leaving. Now.”

Louis is right behind him, face red, lips spread into a wide grin. “I was enjoying that chat with your sister.”

“Fuck off,” Harry tosses over his shoulder, eyes narrowed. He looks more than a little angry, and Liam is definitely going to ask Louis what happened as soon as they’re back in their dormitory.

When they get to the door the same guy who let them in opens it to let them out. Harry finally lets go of Zayn and stomps down the stairs, disappearing around the corner before the door can even shut behind them. Louis looks more than a little smug and pleased, but underneath that Liam can see confusion in his eyes, too, and something else that he doesn’t fully understand.

“Gemma made an ass of him, then?” Zayn asks Louis.

“Hm?” Louis frowns at him. “Oh, yeah. Something like that.” Liam gives him a quizzical look and Louis touches his shoulder lightly and says, “Tell you later. Don’t worry about it.”

Harry is waiting out front for them, hands buried in the pockets of his coat. He starts heading down the street, not waiting for the rest of them to keep up. They don’t go back to the pub they arrived at. Instead Harry turns into the nearest McDonalds and heads straight for the bathroom. Why they didn’t just apparate from the club, Liam has no idea.

Inside the bathroom Zayn grabs his hand and, without another look for Louis and Harry. They arrive back at the room above the Three Broomsticks. Zayn pulls open the door to the passageway, not waiting for the others.

“Shouldn’t we--?”

Zayn shakes his head. “I have a feeling they’ll be a bit,” Zayn tells him.

“Okay,” Liam says slowly. Zayn lights his wand and they start down the passageway.

“Do you want to spend some time in my common room?” Zayn asks as they walk. “We haven’t really had much alone time today. Or the past week, really.”

“Whose fault was that?” Liam teases.

Zayn bumps his shoulder into Liam’s. “I get sort of obsessive about my work. Sorry.”

Liam shakes his head, resisting the urge to stop and kiss Zayn right there, mostly because he just really, really wants to be out of the tunnel. “No, I like it,” Liam says honestly. “I like watching you work, too. You get really focused. It’s sort of attractive.”

“But you always distract me,” Zayn points out.

“I never even do anything,” Liam argues.

“Well, see,” Zayn says, lowering his arm so that it doesn’t lighten up the space in front of them as much, “I have this issue where, whenever you’re around, I really want to be kissing you. And it’s hard to focus on my work when you’ve got lips like that.”

Liam flushes, grateful for the lack of lighting because he knows Zayn can’t see him. Far behind them he hears voices and figures that Harry and Louis are arguing about something. He and Zayn don’t slow down and wait for them, though. Liam feels a bit bad, knowing that they wouldn’t go at each other as badly if he and Zayn were there to break it up. But, at the same time, Liam just wants to spend a bit of alone time with Zayn, too.

“You know,” Zayn says quietly, “with an entire dorm to ourselves, we can check another thing off the list for both of our teams.”

Liam frowns, not following. “What one?”

Zayn chuckles quietly and says, “You’ll see.”

The way he says it has Liam shivering. He tugs them forward a bit faster. When they get to the opening that’s blocked by the suit of armour, Zayn mutters the password again and it opens for them. Liam looks over his shoulder but Harry and Louis are far enough behind that he can’t even see them. He hopes that Louis’ not mad at him for running off with Zayn, but if he is Liam will just make it up to him tomorrow by sneaking down to the kitchen and getting him his favourite chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast.

“I think it’s past midnight,” Zayn whispers as they head through the halls, hand in hand.

“I’m sort of an expert at sneaking around the halls past curfew,” Liam says, lifting his chin a bit and grinning.

“I know,” Zayn tells him. “I normally have to come save your ass afterwards.”

Liam pouts at him but says, “You’re fairly good at the whole knight in shining armour thing.”

“Only for you,” Zayn says sleazily. Liam rolls his eyes.

They make it to the Ravenclaw door without incident. Liam vaguely remembers last time he was here, and he only startles a bit when the eagle on the door asks, “What’s easier done than said?”

Zayn snorts and says, “Silence. Really, are you even trying?”

The door swings open and Liam spares the eagle one last look as they head inside. Zayn releases his hand and heads straight for the sofa. He grabs it and, with a bit of effort, tugs it closer to the fireplace against the left wall. Liam heads over to him and sinks down onto it while Zayn lights the fire.

It’s silent in the room except for them and the soft sound of wind blowing outside. A faint amount of light comes in through the window, and other than the fire it’s the only source of illumination. The fire flickers, casting shadows around the room, and it fills the room with the faint scent of charred wood. Liam inhales deeply and shrugs off his gloves and coat.

Zayn takes off his own coat, too, throwing it over the back of the couch. He tosses his gloves somewhere, too, and then says, “I’ll be right back.”

Liam nods and watches him dash up the stairs. It’s late and the fire is warm and relaxing. He could fall asleep like this, he figures. He plans to head back to his own common room, though. He wants to let Louis know that he’s okay, and he wants to make sure that Louis’ okay.

Zayn returns a moment later with a blanket. He throws it over Liam’s lap and then settles onto the couch beside him, tugging it over himself, too. He puts an arm around Liam’s shoulder and Liam sinks into him, resisting a yawn.

“Isn’t it kind of lonely?” Liam asks. “Being here all alone, I mean.”

Zayn shrugs. “I don’t mind being alone. I spend most of my time in here just reading anyways, and this way there’s no one to bother me.”

Liam shakes his head fondly. “Why don’t you ever go home, though?”

Zayn sighs and removes his arm from around Liam’s shoulder. He brushes a hand through his hair, eyes on the fire, and says, “I don’t really get along with my parents. I sort of told you about that the other day, with them wanting me to be in Slytherin and being more than a bit upset that I wasn’t.” Liam nods, remembering. “I don’t know why, it’s just that they’re really into, like, family pride and blood status and shit. Fuck, they’d disown me if they had any idea I was dating a muggleborn.”

Liam shifts uncomfortably, eyebrows drawing together. He remembers years ago, when he was only a second year, walking through the halls with Louis when a group of older students had called him a mudblood. Louis had punched the guy in the face, and Liam had been more than a little confused. He gets that certain older families are like that, though. That they think being born into a wizarding family, as opposed to being born into a muggle family, makes you better. That there’s something dirty about muggles and muggleborns.

“Do you feel the same way?” Liam asks quietly.

Zayn shakes his head, eyes wide. “Definitely not, Liam, come on.” He fits his fingers into the spaces between Liam’s. “I’m just saying that my parents are sort of assholes. And we really don’t get along all that much, so it’s easier to spend as much time away from them as I can. During the summer I spend most of my time at Harry’s, and when I can I stay here.”

“I’m sorry,” Liam tells him. He can’t imagine how it would be to have a bad relationship with his parents. He relies on them so much for everything, and he doesn’t think he’d be the same person if they all weren’t as close as they are.

Zayn shrugs. “Not a big deal,” he says nonchalantly. “As soon as I graduate I have an internship at the Ministry, and Harry and I have been planning on sharing a flat together since we were old enough to want something like that. I obviously still love them, it’s just best for us to have a more long distance relationship.”

Liam smiles weakly at him and brushes a fallen piece of hair off Zayn’s forehead. He can’t help but let his hand trail down his jaw, feeling the difference between the smooth skin and the rough stubble. He sort of loves the stubble; loves the way it feels under his fingers, and the way it makes his chin tingle if they kiss for too long. And he can’t help but wonder how it would feel on the inside of his thighs if Zayn was--,

“Anyways,” Zayn says, cutting off his thoughts, which is probably a good thing because his pants are uncomfortably suddenly. “Did you have fun today?”

“I did,” Liam says honestly. “I would have had fun no matter what we did, though. I just like spending time with you.”

“That is cheesy as fuck,” Zayn informs him, but he’s grinning anyways. He leans in, and the hand that was holding Liam’s is now rubbing circles on his thigh. “Can I try something?”

Liam struggles to think through the fog in his brain that Zayn’s breath on his neck has caused. “Yeah,” Liam says, nodding.

“For the list,” Zayn explains, pushing the blanket off Liam’s legs. He kisses Liam’s lips softly, just once, and then he slides off the couch to the floor. He kneels there, a hand on each of Liam’s knees, looking up at him with an almost vulnerable expression. “Is this okay? I-- can I--?”

Liam’s having a hard time breathing, because he’ pretty sure that Zayn’s on his knees in front of him, asking if he can suck Liam’s dick. And that is just too much for Liam, really. “Please-- I mean, yeah. Yes. You-- yeah.”

Liam’s stammering must be enough for him, because that vulnerable look is almost completely gone as he leans forward, hands moving up Liam’s legs. Liam is already hard just from the prospect of what is most likely going to happen.

Zayn pushes at his thighs a bit, spreading them a bit wider, and Liam moves slightly closer to the edge of the couch. Zayn has his bottom lip caught between his teeth, and when he chances a glance up at Liam, Liam has a feeling that Zayn won’t even get his pants undone before he comes because, really, one person should not be allowed to be that attractive.

Zayn pushes up Liam’s shirt a bit, untucking it from his pants. His fingers fumble on the buttons of Liam’s jeans, and he’d help him if he could, but Liam doubts he’d be able to do it himself right now. He finally gets it done and then pulls down the zipper, eyes on what he’s doing. Liam lifts his hips a bit when Zayn tugs on his jeans, and he pulls them off, tossing Liam’s shoes away as he does so.

And then Zayn is sort of just staring at him. His hands are impossibly hot on Liam’s thighs, and Liam’s feeling more than a little self-conscious at the way Zayn’s eying him through his boxers.

“You don’t have to,” Liam says in a quiet voice.

Zayn looks up at him sharply. He licks his lips -- fuck -- and says, “I really, really want to. I’m just-- sorry. I haven’t really… I haven’t really done this. Before. Ever.”

Liam tries not to look surprised by that, but he is. It’s just that Zayn’s been fairly confident and forward through this whole thing, and that’s just… he didn’t expect that. Liam actually has done this before, but it was different. It was all different before Zayn because Zayn is different.

Liam leans forward a bit, brushing a hand through Zayn’s hair. “I can guide you through it, if you want.”

Zayn snorts and gives an affronted look, but he says, “Okay. But I’m not, like, completely lost here. I just-- let me know if-- if it’s--,” he waves a hand.

Liam would find him adorable right now if he weren’t, you know, on the floor in front of him, talking about sucking Liam off.

Zayn sucks in a breath and gets a determined look on his face. “You really don’t have to,” Liam tells him. “Honestly, Zayn. Whatever you’re comfortable. I’m happy to just sit here with you in front of the fire.”

“Only you, Liam,” Zayn says, shaking his head, “would be polite when I’m trying to suck your dick.”

Liam goes to apologize -- he can’t help it-- but then Zayn is palming him through his boxers, and apologizing is really not important, in the scheme of things. A moment later Zayn pulls him out of his boxers and wraps a hand around him, pumping him slowly for a minute. Once again, Liam is more than a little self-conscious with the way Zayn is watching him so intently, from the way his hand moves over Liam’s cock to the way Liam’s chest is heaving.

It’s suddenly so fucking hot in the common room. Liam fumbles with the buttons on his shirt, considering just ripping them off, but when he finally gets them unbuttoned he can breathe a little easier, and Zayn is looking at him like he wants to ruin him, despite the fact that he’s already done just that.

When Zayn leans forward hesitantly, Liam sucks in a breath. Zayn tentatively licks at the head, and Liam lets out a helpless, strangled sound that has Zayn looking up at him in alarm. Liam tangles a hand in Zayn’s hair, trying to let him know with a light tug that he’s good. More than good. He’s fucking fantastic right now.

Zayn wraps his lips around Liam completely, and it takes everything in Liam not to push Zayn’s head down, or jerk his hips up. Zayn looks up at him again, seeking assurance; Liam can only nod mutely because he doesn’t trust his voice right now, doesn’t trust moans and a litany of ‘fuck please Zayn fuck’ not to slip between his lips.

When Zayn lowers his mouth and Liam feels himself hit the back of his throat, he has to curl his freehand around the armrest of the couch, nails scratching almost painfully against the material. It’s almost too much for him already, the way Zayn’s mouth feels, and the way he looks with his lips stretched obscenely around Liam’s cock.

When he pulls up Liam hisses, “Teeth. Teeth, Zayn.” Zayn pulls off all the way, lips slick, and licks soothingly at the head before going back down.

Liam tilts his head back against the couch as Zayn gets braver, more bolder, less hesitant. He can’t take Liam all the way in - Liam doesn’t expect him to-- but he makes up for what he can’t with his hand. And it’s good. It’s so fucking good, and Liam has no idea why Zayn was nervous about this because Liam is a breathless, mindless mess from his tongue and mouth and lips and his heavily lidded eyes.

“So good,” Liam tells him, brushing his hand through Zayn’s hair. “So fucking-- fuck .”

Zayn struggling to moan around him, and Liam doesn’t miss the way his eyes flutter closed as he pushes a hand down on his own need. That’s almost all Liam needs to be pushed to the edge, and he tugs on Zayn’s hair a bit, reluctantly. Zayn moans again, louder, and Liam realizes belatedly that he likes Liam pulling his hair. Liam is a complete wreck after that.

“You need to-- Zayn, I’m--,” he cuts off on a moan as Zayn pulls up, tongue dragging along the underside, and then completely pulls off him. He barely has to move his hand up Liam, palm sliding over the head, before Liam is coming, chest tight, hand still fisting tightly in Zayn’s hair, moan slipping between his lips without his consent.

Zayn wipes his hand on Liam’s boxers and sinks down onto his feet, a pleased look on his face. Liam grabs his shirt and tugs him up, not caring about the fact that there’s come on his stomach and his boxers. Zayn doesn’t either, apparently, because he straddles Liam’s hips instantly, tipping his head down to kiss him. Liam can faintly taste himself on Zayn’s tongue, underneath the citrus and smoke.

Liam wraps an arm around Zayn’s back and lifts up, dropping Zayn onto the cushions of the sofa. Zayn lets out a surprised sound but Liam barely registers it, hands pushing at Zayn’s button up. Fucking buttons, honestly.

Liam rubs a hand over the length of Zayn’s erection through the material of his dress pants. “Can I return the favour?” he asks, looking up at Zayn.

Zayn nods frantically, eyes wide. Liam realizes a beat later that he’s the first to do this for Zayn, and he wants it to be as good for him as Zayn had made it for Liam.

Liam doesn’t even look to see where Zayn’s pants go when he tosses them over the back of the couch. Honestly, he doesn’t really give a fuck. Zayn’s wearing tight white briefs that do little to hide the length of him, and Liam almost needs to do this. Needs to taste him and feel Zayn hitting the back of his throat as he rips moans from Zayn’s lips.

Liam pulls Zayn’s briefs down just enough to free him, and then, without the hesitancy that Zayn had, he licks his lips and then wraps them around him. He swirls his tongue over the head, tongue at the slit a bit, and Zayn’s hand goes to his head, nails scratching feebly against his scalp.

“No hair,” Zayn says desperately. “Why don’t you have hair-- fuck , Liam.”

Liam attempts to grin around him, but it’s sort of difficult and not really all that important anyways. He has a hand flat on Zayn’s hip, holding him down, which is a good thing because Zayn accidentally bucks up into his mouth before letting out a stream of apologies.

Liam just sucks him down father and then hollows his cheeks as he pulls back up. The sound Zayn makes as his head falls back almost painfully hard against the arm rest of the couch is possibly the best thing Liam’s ever head. The hand not struggling to find hair to hold onto bunches up the fabric of Liam’s shirt, and Liam hears the sound of the seam ripping but he doesn’t care.

Zayn, thankfully, warns him before he comes. Liam pulls off him and strokes him through it, revelling in the way Zayn’s stomach -- showing only because Liam pushed his shirt up-- tenses, and his eyes squeeze closed, and his lips part in a soundless ‘o’. Seeing Zayn like this is almost better than having Zayn’s lips wrapped around him.

Afterwards, when they’re cleaned up and both partially dressed again-- Liam leaves his shirt unbuttoned at Zayn’s request, and Zayn doesn’t bother to locate his pants--, Zayn says, “You’ve got quite the potty mouth during, did you know that?” Liam’s cheeks go red but Zayn rubs his thumb over one of them. “I kind of love it.”

Liam swallows and bites on his tongue before he says something that he’s not quite ready to say yet. “I should probably let Louis know that you didn’t murder me or something.”

“Or make sure that Harry didn’t murder him,” Zayn says.

“Yeah,” Liam agrees. He stands up and stretches, yawning as he does so. Zayn pulls the blanket back over himself and curls up against the armrest. “See you tomorrow?”

Zayn nods. “Night, Liam.”

Liam kisses his forehead before he heads out.

Liam nearly has a run in with Filch on his way to his own common room, but he ducks behind a suit of armour to avoid being seen. When he makes it up to his room, Louis is still awake, sitting up in his bed, papers spread out around him like he was actually doing work.

“Hi,” Liam says sheepishly, rubbing the back of his neck.

“Hey,” Louis says distractedly. “Have fun with Zayn?”

“Um, yeah,” Liam says lamely. “Lots of… fun.”

Louis hums and continues with his work. Liam changes into more comfortable clothes and gets into bed. “So, you going to tell me what happened with Harry?”

Apparently Louis was waiting for him to ask, because he sits up straighter and pushes his work away with a dramatic sigh and a sweep of his arm. “Gemma is under the impression that Harry has had a crush on me since we were thirteen and he watched you and I playing Quidditch.”

Liam raises his eyebrows, surprised. “Seriously?”

Louis snorts. “She’s wrong, obviously, but --,” he grins, “there was still something completely satisfying about watching him turn red and jump her like he was going to physically stop her from saying anything else.”

Liam snorts and returns the grin. “So you had fun today, though?”

“I did,” Louis agrees. He yawns and Liam does the same. “Bedtime, I think.”

“Yeah,” Liam consents.

Louis reaches for one of the papers on his bed before they turn out the light, though, and he reads over it slowly. Liam recognizes it as the list a moment later, just before Louis says, “Get a blowjob in any of the four common rooms .” Liam turns red and Louis regards him with a look of barely surprised amusement. “It’s got a green and red checkmark beside it.”

“Goodnight, Louis,” Liam says, pulling a pillow over his head.




Two days later Louis walks into the Great Hall at lunch -- which Liam is having with Zayn, since Louis was still sleeping when he’d gotten up-- and coughs loudly, bringing everyone’s attention to him. Harry is having lunch with his housemates, and the other two Gryffindors are sitting with the table of four Hufflepuffs.

“We,” Louis says loudly, “are going to play a game of Quidditch. Everyone out on the field in half an hour. If you’re not there I will find you. And I will do painful things to you with one of the cactuses from the greenhouse.”

Louis sweeps out of the room right afterwards. Liam watches him go and then grins at Zayn as everyone else starts talking animatedly. Liam doesn’t hear a single complaint, but he does here a, “Going to kick Tomlinson’s ass to make up for that game the other day,” from the Slytherin table.

Zayn goes pale and he shakes his head. “No way,” he says. “I’m not playing.”

Liam gapes at him. “Why not?”

“Because,” Zayn says defensively. “This whole school is so obsessed with Quidditch. It’s just a sport. A ridiculous, dangerous sport at that. And I don’t want any part in it.”

Liam hooks his ankle around Zayn’s and says, “Come on. It’ll be fun.”

Liam widens his eyes and juts out his bottom lip. Zayn glares at him, but Liam keeps it up until Zayn’s lips twitch and then he sighs deeply and says, “Fuck your puppy face, Liam.” Liam continues pouting. “Okay, fine .”

Liam grins and bites his sandwich merrily. They go their separate ways after they’re done eating, planning to meet up on the field. Liam’s wearing his coat and gloves, and he has the keys to the storage shed in his pocket so he can get out the school brooms and the balls. They’re going to play snitch-less because snitches are only good for a one time use, and Liam actually doesn’t know where the referee gets them before the game, because they’re definitely not in the box with the rest of the balls.

“I just figured,” Louis says while Liam unlocks the shed, “that we all need something to do. And what better than Qudditch, right?”

Liam nods. “It’s a brilliant idea,” he agrees, heaving up the large trunk that contains the balls. Louis doesn’t offer to help; Liam didn’t really expect him to.

By the time he gets the box out, everyone else is on the field. He doesn’t see a single person missing. Everyone is dressed in weather appropriate gear, given the fact that it’s snowing lightly and the wind is a bit strong.

“Okay, we’re going to break up into teams,” Louis says, clapping his hands together. “Two captains get to chose from the ground. I appoint myself first captain, and --,”

“I’ll be second captain,” Harry cuts in.

Louis glares at him and says, “Fine. My first pick is, obviously, Liam.”

Liam groans because he wants Zayn, who is standing beside Harry, looking deeply uncomfortable, on his team, and Harry will obviously pick Zayn next because they’re best friends.

Surprisingly, Harry says, “I’ll take Roman.” Roman is a boy from Slytherin team. He’s a fairly good beater, too, and Liam knew Harry would chose him, he just figured Harry would pick Zayn first.

“I’ll take Warner,” Louis says, gesturing to the Hufflepuff boy. Again, he is on an actual Quidditch team.

“Benson,” Harry says, picking his other Slytherin classmate.

Next Louis picks the female Gryffindor, and then Harry takes the last Slytherin. At the end Louis has all the Gryffindors as well as one Hufflepuff. Zayn is the last man. They’re uneven teams, and Louis says, “How’re we going to decide who gets the extra player?”

Harry laughs and says, “You can take Zayn.” Zayn glares at him for this and moves towards Liam.

“Prick,” Zayn mutters. “Can’t I just referee?”

“No,” Louis says. “We have an advantage now, I’m not giving it up.”

“You’re insane if you think Zayn’s an advantage,” Harry tells him. Liam and Louis both frown at him, and he adds, “Zayn hasn’t been on a broom since third year. He hates flying.”

Liam gapes at Zayn and Zayn flushes red. “So what?” he snaps. “It’s not a big deal.”

“It is, actually,” Louis says, looking at Zayn as if he’s an escaped mental patient. “How do you not like flying?”

“Because I don’t,” Zayn says roughly. “I’m not playing. Fuck this.”

“Hey,” Liam says, putting a hand on his waist. “No, play. It’ll be fun. You-- you can fly on the back of my broom. I’m a great flyer, I promise.”

“He is,” Louis says. “Best I’ve ever met, considering he’s muggleborn and all.”

Liam makes a face at him and turns back to Zayn, who still looks more than a little unwilling. He brushes a hand over Zayn’s cheek and says, “I’ll show you how fun it is. Trust me.”

“You’re not going to let this go, are you?” Zayn sighs.

Liam shakes his head, grinning. “Quidditch is one of my favourite things,” he says. “I want to share that with you.”

“I hate Qudditch,” Zayn grumbles.

“I’ll make you love it,” Liam says. “Or I’ll try, and if not then I’ll bring you back down and you can referee.”

Zayn runs a hand through his hair and then nods. “Okay, deal. But we spend the rest of the night in the library, then.”

“You and that library,” Liam says, shaking his head. He leans into Zayn and adds, too quiet for anyone else to hear, “Afterwards we can clean off together in the prefects bathroom.”

Zayn pulls back, lips quirking up. “I love Quidditch.”

“That’s the spirit!” Louis says brightly. “Everyone get a broom.”

Zayn groans and waits outside as Liam gets his own (he actually owns his own, not one of the school ones. How his parents had bought it for him -- he thinks Louis had something to do with it, though Louis refuses to answer every time he asks-- he has no idea). When he gets back outside Zayn is gnawing on his lip, cheeks flushed.

“Just get on behind me,” Liam says while tucking the broomstick between his legs. “Puts your arms around my waist. As long as you hold on tightly, you’ll be fine.”

“I’ll be fine,” Zayn repeats. “We’re just, you know, flying so far off the ground that if we fall we could potentially crack open our skulls and/or break our spines. But it’ll be fine because it’s all in the name of sports .”

“You’re very sarcastic,” Liam notes.

Zayn sticks out his tongue but gets on the back of the broom. He doesn’t have his gloves on at the moment, and Liam thinks that’s probably for the best. It’ll be easier for him to hold on without them, which is why Liam takes off his own, too, just so he’ll be sure to have a good grip on the broom. Zayn’s arms wrap tightly around his waist-- almost painfully so-- and Liam shifts a bit to get comfortable and used to the extra weight on his broom.

“You ready?” Liam asks.

Zayn presses his face against Liam’s back. “Just do it, Liam.”

Liam shakes his head, feeling bad suddenly. “If you really don’t want to, I’m not going to make you. It’s fine if--,”

“If you don’t push off from the ground right now, Liam, I swear--,”

Liam grins and does just that, cutting off the rest of Zayn’s words. It’s a little awkward at first, given the fact that Liam has little to no experience of flying with anyone else -- except that time when he stayed at Louis’ house during the summer and he gave one of Louis’ sisters a ride, but she’d been tiny, and Zayn isn’t--, but he gets the hang of it pretty quickly. He’s just got to put a little more effort into turning, and he has to be careful not to more downwards too fast, because he tried to tilt the broom down and Zayn’s extra weight had them zooming towards the ground, which made Zayn shout out a stream of colourful words that Louis himself would be proud of.

“Sorry, sorry,” Liam says quickly. “Didn’t think that through.”

He can see Zayn behind him, eyes squeezes closed. “You’re a horrible person,” Zayn gasps out. “I thought you were a good person, but I was really, really wrong.”

“I’m sorry,” Liam says sincerely. “Do you want me to put you on the ground?”

Zayn shakes his head and breathes deeply. He slowly opens his eyes. “No, I’ll be fine. I’m good. Just-- don’t do that again.”

“I won’t,” Liam promises.

They circle around the field a few more times until Liam is fully comfortable and functional with Zayn behind him, and then Louis starts the game. It’s fun. It’s not all that competitive. Everyone’s mostly just trying to have fun. At one point Liam makes Louis cover his goal so he can show off a bit and show Zayn that he’s not just a good keeper. He’s a fairly good chaser, too, he just doesn’t ever get a chance to play that position because he’s better suited to playing goal.

He gets the goal, one of Harry’s team mates streaming after the Quaffle after it goes through. Zayn lets out a loud whoop and then says, “Fuck you, Styles! My boyfriend plays better than you with two to a broom!”

Harry flips them off and Liam grins so widely it almost hurts. “Next time can I throw it?” Zayn asks as Liam streams towards Roman, who has the Quaffle.

“Definitely,” Liam agrees. He turns to Karen and says, “Get me that Quaffle.”

Karen nods and then, with Warner’s help, she gets the Quaffle and tosses it to Liam, who catches it and tosses it to Zayn. Then they’re zooming towards Harry again, Liam weaving expertly to avoid the other team.

Zayn misses but he doesn’t care at all, apparently, because he still lets out a proud whoop again and says, “I was close. Next time I’ll get it.”

By the end of the game no one is playing their specific positions. No one is blocking either goals, Louis stole a Beater bat from the other team and he and Harry were attacking each other with Bludgers. Zayn scored more than one goal, but no one was really taking score anymore. Eventually people start landing, groups of two putting their brooms away and heading back to the castle, seeking the warmth and probably something to drink and eat.

Zayn and Liam are the last two, with Harry and Louis, both of whom are now struggling to capture the final bludger. “We’re heading back up the castle,” Liam says, flying by Louis’ side. He pulls the keys to the storage shed out of his pocket and says, “Lock up when you’re done.”

Louis nods and holds out his hands for the keys. Instead of tossing him then, Liam grins and drops them to the ground. Louis calls him a fucker before flying after them.

“That wasn’t so bad, right?” Liam asks when they’re on the ground. Zayn slowly climbs off the broom and stretches with a wince.

“Not so bad,” Zayn agrees. “Mostly because you’re a pretty good flying. I’m really, really bad at it, though. Remember in first year when we all had to take flying lessons? I cried. And then in third year Harry snuck me out to the pitch and we went for a broom ride, and I flew right into the Whomping Willow. I spent a week in the infirmary, and today was the first time I’ve been on a broom since that.”

“You flew into the Whomping Willow?” Liam asks, eyes wide. Zayn nods and Liam struggle not to laugh. He pictures it happening, though, and it’s really funny. For a moment, but then he winces and it’s not funny anymore, because he doesn’t really like imagining Zayn getting hurt.

Liam puts the broom away and then, hand in hand, they head for the castle, leaving Louis and Harry-- who are still in the air-- behind.

“Meet you back here after we bring our coats to our rooms?” Liam says when they get to the Great Hall.

Zayn raises his eyebrows. “I was promised a bath in the prefects bathroom.”

Liam forgot about that, but now that Zayn’s reminded him, that is a really, really good idea. “Better not break that promise, then,” Liam says, stomach twisting in the best possible way.

“You also said we could spend the rest of the night in the library,” Zayn adds as they head for the fifth floor.

Liam groans. “I did.”

“And you’re going to love every minute of it,” Zayn tells him. “I’ll read to you. It’ll be nice.”

Liam stops and pulls him into a kiss, mostly because he can, and he likes that. “I will,” he agrees. “Only because I’ll be with you.”

“Cheesy, babe” Zayn points out.

Liam shrugs. “You love it.”

Zayn doesn’t deny it.

When they get to the prefects bathroom, Zayn says the password and they head inside. Liam shucks off his jacket and then heads for the tub, pausing above the orange bubbles he likes to use after a good game. “Any preferences?”

Zayn nods. “Use the orange bubbles,” he says. “They’re my favourite.”

Liam pauses and then looks up at him. “Is that why you always smell like citrus?”

Zayn frowns. “I wasn’t aware that I did, but probably.”

“And you taste like it, too,” Liam adds. “Do you eat the bubbles?”

Zayn makes a face at him and digs around in his pocket. He produces a small, foil wrapped object and tosses it to Liam, who just catches it before it falls in the tub. He unwraps it, realizing it’s a piece of candy, and pops it in his mouth. Of course it tastes like oranges and a little bit like lemon.

“What about the smoke?” Liam asks while turning on the water.

Zayn shifts uncomfortably. “I may have a bad habit,” Zayn admits.

“I’ve never seen you with a cigarette,” Liam tells him.

Zayn grins. “Not allowed to smoke on school ground, are you? And I’d prefer not to get caught.”

Smoking is a bad habit, and Liam doesn’t understand it. But he pictures Zayn with a cigarette dangling from his fingers, a cloud of smoke surrounding him, and maybe it’s not such a disgusting habit after all.

“Do you have a smoking kink?” Zayn asks, snapping Liam out of the fantasy.

“No,” Liam says, turning back to the tub. He twists the knob for the orange bubbles and then straightens up and tugs off his shirt. “You know we’re probably breaking, like, ten school rules right now.”

“We’re in a bathroom,” Zayn points out while kicking off his shoes. “Who’s going to catch us in here?”

They both look at each other for a moment before saying, at the same time, “Louis.”

“He doesn’t have the password, though,” Liam adds. He grins. “That’s why this place is my safe haven. I always come here after a game to relax.”

“Really,” Zayn says. He pulls off his shirt and Liam pauses to admire him because, really, there’s a lot to admire. But then Zayn is tugging off his pants, too, and Liam looks away, unbuttoning his own pants.

By the time he’s naked Zayn still has his boxers on. Liam is more than comfortable with his body, especially considering the way that Zayn looks at him like he should be. Zayn, on the other hand, is blushing a bit.

“You realize I’ve seen you naked before, right?” Liam says, sinking down onto the ledge of the tub.

“I know that,” Zayn says somewhat defensively. “But both of those times were when we were caught up in the moment. This is different.”

“How so?” Liam asks, sliding into the tub. It’s just the right temperature, not too warm, and he settles into the soothing water.

“Because you were touching me then,” Zayn points out. “Now you’re not.”

“I could be,” Liam points out.

Zayn rolls his eyes and then says, “Turn around and I’ll get in.”

Liam complies instantly. He turns and cover his eyes, too. A moment later he hears Zayn get in, and then Zayn is at his back, kissing his neck. “We should do this all the time,” he says. “I like you covered in bubbles.”

Liam turns around and kisses him. His arms go around Zayn’s neck, hands fisting in his hair, lips parting. It’s a slow, warm kiss, the kind that seems fitting at the moment. He can feel Zayn hardening against his leg, knows he’s in the same position, but neither of them are rushing towards anything more just yet.

“I sort of always want to be touching you,” Zayn says against his lips. “I can’t stop.” His hands slide up Liam’s sides, down his back, cup his ass, over his thighs.

“No one’s going to make you any time soon,” Liam tells him.

Zayn grins. “Good.”

It’s mostly an innocent bath, until Zayn pushes Liam up against the side of the tub and grins against him while sucking a mark onto the spot where his neck meets his shoulder. After that it becomes decidedly less innocent.




Liam wakes up on Christmas Eve feeling melancholy. Louis isn’t in a much better mood, either, and he doesn’t even really have the energy to get up and head down to the Great Hall, or to go see Zayn, which normally he’d be rushing to do. Instead he changes into a clean pair of sweat pants, an old t-shirt, and then he and Louis curl up in the common room on the sofa, Louis’ head on his chest. They bribe their housemates into bringing them breakfast and lunch, and they mostly just stay like that for a while.

“My mum’s probably making cookies right now,” Louis say wistfully. “And the girl will beg to help, but they’ll end up eating half of the dough raw, even though mum scolds them for it.”

Liam brushes a hand through Louis’ hair. “We can go make cookies in the kitchen if you want. Consider it my birthday present to you.”

Louis sits up, eyes wide. “Really?”

Liam nods. “I’m sure we could.”

Louis kisses him sloppily on the cheek. “Have I told you lately that I love you?”

Liam grins. “No. Nice to hear it sometimes, though.”

“Well, I love you,” Louis says, standing up. “Now get up, cookie time. And then afterwards you can go see your boyfriend, because I have a feeling you’ve been itching to do so for the last hour. You and Malik are so clingy, honestly.”

Liam makes a face at him. “We’re not clingy.”

“You are,” Louis tells him. “It’s okay, though. You’re sort of good together, you know. And it’s about fucking time, considering how long the two of you’ve been in love with each other.”

“I think I might really be, you know,” Liam says softly, looking down at his hands. “Be in love with him, I mean.”

Louis falls back onto the couch, looking like he was hit by a train. “Well fuck,” Louis says. “That’s kind of a big deal.”

“Yeah,” Liam agree.

“Not fair,” Louis sighs. “You’re all in love, and I can’t even get a date.”

Liam lets out a loud breath. “You could, you’re just picky. You and I both know that you’ve been asked out several times this year alone. You just always say no.”

“I’m holding out for the right one,” Louis says easily. “I’m not picky, I’m -- yeah, I’m picky. Nothing wrong with knowing what you want and not settling for less.”

“And what do you want?” Liam questions.

Louis shrugs. “Someone who’s attractive and funny. Who’s nice, but not too nice, you know? They’d have to be able to sass me right back or I’d get bored. And he’d have to have nice eyes and legs. And good hair, too. And they’d have to be interested in the things I like, like Quidditch, and myself. They’d have to laugh at my jokes even if they’re not funny, but just because they want to make me feel good about myself. And they’d have to give good foot massages. Oh, and I’d like abs, too, but that’s not a deal breaker. Just a preference.”

Liam raises his eyebrows an falls back against the back of the sofa. “I should have gotten you a cat for Christmas,” he tells Louis, “because you’re going to be waiting for the perfect person for a long time with a list like that.”

Louis sighs. “I know,” he agrees. “Anyways, you promised me cookies, I want cookies. And I’m going to make an entire bowl of dough and bring it back up here for dinner. And no, Liam, you cannot stop me. It’s Christmas eve and I want cookie dough for dinner. Don’t you take this away from me.”

Liam lifts his hands defensively. “I wouldn’t dare try.”

When they get back to the common room, Liam is covered in flour (not from the actual baking, but from Louis being an asshole) and Louis with an entire bowl of cookie dough and a spoon, just like he’d promised.

“You’re going to get sick,” Liam tells him.

“Don’t care,” Louis says, spooning another bite into his mouth. “If I die, I will have died a sugary, chocolately, buttery death, and that is all I could ask for in life.”

Liam rolls his eyes and reaches for a finger of dough, but something hitting the window to his left stops him. He frowns and then, a moment later, another snowball hits the window and he gets up to investigate.

Zayn is standing outside in just a t-shirt, arms crossed, rocking back on his heels. Harry is beside him, dressed in much of the same.

“The Fat Lady wouldn’t let us knock on the door,” Zayn shouts. “Spend the rest of the night with us?”

Liam grins and shakes his head when Harry produces a bottle of vodka from his jacket. “I’ll wait outside the door for you.”

Zayn grins and then he and Harry hurry off towards the door. Liam shuts the window again and rubs his arms, which are cold from the air that had been blowing in through the window. Louis is leaning over the back of the couch, bowl of dough in his hands. “Who wa’zat?” he asks through a mouthful of dough.

“Zayn and Harry are coming in,” Liam explains. “Is that okay?”

Louis falls back onto the couch, still not sitting properly because he’s kneeling on his knees, but it’s Louis so, really, this is as good as he’s going to get. “That’s fine,” he say offhandedly. “Sure. No problem.”

As promised, Liam waits outside the portrait for Zayn. The Fat Lady lectures him on having a Slytherin and Ravenclaw in, but Liam reminds her of the time she’d let Harry in with Leanne, and she shuts up instantly.

Zayn climbs the stairs by himself, a book in his hands. He kisses Liam on the cheek -- which the Fat Lady coos at-- and then says, “Sorry, Harry’s getting something. He’ll be a minute.”

Liam shrugs. “That’s fine. We weren’t really doing anything anyways. Well, I wasn’t. Louis’ finishing off an entire bowl of cookie dough.”


Liam nods solemnly. “It’s like watching the discovery channel.”

Zayn frowns at him. “The what?”

“It’s a-- never mind,” Liam says, remembering that Zayn was born into a wizarding family, therefore he has no idea about certain things that are common knowledge for Liam. “It’s just disturbing, let’s say that.”

“Okay,” Zayn says, chuckling.

Harry arrives a few minutes later, a chess board under one arm, the bottle of vodka in one hand, a bag in the other, and a cookie in his mouth. “House elves made cookies,” he says through the food in his mouth.

“No they didn’t,” Liam corrects. “Louis and I did.”

Harry frowns and chews, and then says, “But these are really good.”

“I’d offer you some dough,” Liam tells him, “but you’d have to literally pry it from Louis’ cold, dead fingers.” He turns to the Fat Lady. “Nutcracker.”

The door opens and they all head inside. Louis is no longer on the couch. Instead he is spread out on the floor, on his back, bowl of cookie dough on his stomach, spoon in hand. “Mistakes have been made,” Louis groans. “So much cookie dough. I think it’s leaking from my orifices.”

“Told you so,” Liam says.

“Happy birthday, Louis,” Harry says. He drops his bag on the floor, places the chess board on one of the tables, and then bends down over Louis and scoops up a finger of dough. He sucks it into his mouth and says, “Play you for the rest of the bowl?”

Louis sits up and cradles the cookie dough to his chest. “You’re on, Slytherin.”

Liam and Zayn lounge on the couch, Zayn’s head in Liam’s lap. He plays with Zayn’s hair while Zayn reads to him, some old, classic novel that he’s only interested in because he likes to listen to Zayn talk. Louis wins the first game of chess, but Harry challenges him to a best two out of thee and winds up victories. Afterwards they break out the vodka and the bottles of butterbeer, which Harry mixes together. Liam only sips his, and Zayn does the same, but Harry and Louis both drink like they’re dehydrated.

Liam has completely forgotten his bad mood, and what caused it, until Zayn breathes against his neck, “Merry Christmas, Li.” He’s still missing home, and his parents, but he decides that this isn’t a bad alternative at all.

By the time the bottle is nearly empty, Liam only has a nice buzz going. Nothing too strong, his vision is only slightly blurry, and he just feels nice and warm. Louis is off his ass, though, and Harry’s not looking much better. They’re clinging to each other and singing some Wizarding carol that Liam doesn’t recognize, but Zayn does because he hums it softly under his breath.

“He’s not so bad,” Liam decides, nodding his head at Harry.

Zayn grins at him. “You’re not so bad,” he says.

“I’m glad you think so,” Liam snorts.

Zayn nuzzles closer to him. He smells faintly of alcohol, and when his lips ghost over Liam’s the smell get more intense. “Can I stay here tonight?” he whispers. “I don’t want to be alone in my dorm.”

“Of course,” Liam says instantly. He rubs a hand up and down Zayn’s back.

Zayn ducks his head into the crook of Liam’s neck and yawns. “Can we go to bed now, then?”

Liam chuckles but nods. “Sure.”

“Carry me?”

Liam shakes his head. “You’re very demanding.”

“’m just tired,” Zayn replies, punctuating his words with another yawn. “Harry, we’re heading to bed.”

Harry shrugs and says, “Okay. Night.”

“If you’re going to have sex lock the door,” Louis tells them. “If it’s locked I won’t come in.”

Liam makes a face at him and then grips Zayn’s thighs and lifts him. Zayn is heavier than he looks, considering the fact that he looks pretty freaking thin. Liam stumbles, nearly drops him, and then Zayn wiggles out of his arms and says, “It would be a lot less romantic if you dropped me. I’m good to walk.”

Liam puts a hand around his waist instead. When they get to his room he offers Zayn a pair of sweatpants to sleep in. Zayn takes them and changes, and then Liam gets the light and they fall into bed.

“Night, Li,” Zayn says. He has an arm over Liam’s waist, and Liam has a leg thrown over his hip.

“Night,” he answers.




Liam wakes up with to Louis jumping on top of him. “Christmas!” Louis shouts. “Wake up, wake up!”

“Louis,” Liam groans. “You are eighteen years old. Stop acting like you’re five.”

“Go fuck yourself,” Louis says brightly. “And get up.”

“Liam,” Zayn groans from beside him. He has his head tucked against Liam’s chest, and his eyes are closed, eyebrows drawn together. “Make him stop.”

“You’re in my room,” Louis points out.

Zayn’s fingers curl into Liam’s shirt. “’m gonna kill your roommate, babe.”

“Okay,” Liam agrees.

Something hits him in the head and he groans. Zayn pulls the blanket up over his face and says, “Not getting up. Don’t make me.”

“You are both aware of the presents , right?” Louis asks.

Liam doesn’t care about presents. He cares about sleep. And the sleeping boy beside him. And cuddling with said boy and going back to sleep. “Shut up, Louis.”

Louis sighs deeply. “You’re both extremely boring. Merry Christmas. Go back to sleep. We’ll open presents later.”

“I suddenly love you,” Zayn mumbles as Liam climbs under the covers again, pressing his chest against Zayn’s.

“I still hate you,” Louis answers.

He lets them get another hour or so of sleep, though, and the next time that Liam blinks open his eyes, it’s because he can smell eggs and toast and roasted potatoes. He sits up, rubbing at his eyes, and inhales deeply.

“Going to have to get out of bed to eat it,” Louis says, holding a tray of food. “And then we open presents.”

Liam crawls to the end of the bed and attempts to reach the food on the plates, but Louis steps backwards and Liam sighs, collapsing onto the mattress, arm hanging off. “Give me the toast,” Liam orders.

“Rude. Where are your manners, Liam? I thought you were a well brought up gentleman.”

Liam rolls onto his back and frowns up at Louis. “I’m too tired for manners. And hungry. I’ll be a gentleman later.”

“Do I smell muffins?” Zayn says, sitting up. His hair is a rumbled, dishevelled mess, and there’s a crease on his cheek from the pillow. His lips are puffy and pouting a bit, and his clothes are wrinkled. He looks, in all honesty, like the best thing Liam has ever woken up to on Christmas morning.

“There is a plethora of breakfast foods,” Louis taunts, biting on a crispy piece of bacon. Liam whimpers. “But you two will have to get out of bed to have it.”

Zayn moans and crawls over Liam’s body, hand outstretched. “Give me the muffin, Louis.”

“Get out of bed,” Louis replies.

Zayn collapses on top of Liam in defeat.

“You two really are made for each other,” Louis comments, sinking onto his bed. He cheerfully eats his bacon while Liam contemplates how to get the food without leaving the bed.

Zayn apparently knows how to do this, because he reaches for his wand on Liam’s bedside table and says, “Accio muffin.” The muffin zooms across the room and he catches it, leaning up above Liam while he bites it. He offers Liam some and Liam lifts his head only enough to sink his teeth into the warm, buttery muffin. He moans and falls back against the bed afterwards.

“Jesus,” Louis breathes. “That is some serious acts of laziness. I’m both impressed and mildly disgusted.”

Zayn falls off Liam and rolls onto his back, too. “Muffin,” he says happily.

Louis rolls his eyes and gets up. He removes a plate from the tray and then places the tray on Liam’s beside table. “I shouldn’t be enabling this, but there you go,” he tells them. “Hurry up and eat. I have presents to open.”

Zayn’s breakfast consists of nothing but muffins. He eats four of them. Liam, on the other hand, eats bacon and eggs and toast and potatoes and a muffin, too. When they’re done they both move towards the end of the bed. There are two separate piles of presents there, one with Zayn’s name written on them, the others with Liam’s.

“Holy crap,” Liam says, eying Louis’ pile. “Someone got spoiled this year.”

Louis shakes his head and picks up an entire bag of presents that aren’t wrapped. “These aren’t gifs,” he says. “These are supplies for the list.”

“Supplies for the list?”

“A tent,” Louis explains, pulling it out. “Spend an entire night in the forbidden forest . I’m not doing that without somewhere to sleep. And then a few other things.”

“Oh,” Liam says, frowning. “I don’t remember reading that one.”

“Well, it’s on there. I figure we’ll go as soon as the snow’s melted,” Louis explains.

Liam nods and reaches for one of his presents. Zayn’s parents have a lot of money, Liam learns. All of his presents are definitely expensive. Liam’s, on the other hand, have a more personal feel. They might not have broken the bank, but they were all things he really wanted. Louis acts like a child, ripping his wrapping paper off his gifts and tossing it around the room in abandon.

By the time they’re finished Liam is ready to go back to bed. Zayn looks like he feels the same way as he pops one of his orange candies (which he’d gotten a bag of from his parents) into his mouth. “Nap?” he suggests.

“Are you serious?” Louis asks, looking between the two of them.

“Dead serious,” Liam says.

Louis rolls his eyes. “Whatever. I’ll be down in the common room, trying to find someone who doesn’t suck to spend time with.”

“Good luck with that,” Liam tells him while stealing one of Zayn’s candies. Zayn slaps his hand for it and unwraps it himself, and then Liam opens his mouth and Zayn places it on his tongue.

“Yep, definitely leaving,” Louis says.

Liam grins and doesn’t move his eyes from Zayn as the door to the room closes behind Louis. He leans forward and kisses Zayn softly. “Merry Christmas.”

“Merry Christmas,” Zayn says back. He tugs Liam down on top of him. “I could get used to waking up and spending the day in bed with you.”

“Stay here tonight, then,” Liam suggests.

“I just might,” Zayn agrees. He hugs Liam to him, and Liam doesn’t even attempt to get away. “I want to sleep but I really want to kiss you.”

Liam leans up and kisses him slowly. “You can kiss me more later,” he bargains.

“Okay,” Zayn agrees, breaking off with a yawn. “Good idea.”




The rest of the day is spent mostly in bed, except for dinner. They go down to the Great Hall when Louis threatens to literally light Liam’s bed on fire if he and Zayn don’t get out of it. Liam’s glad that he did, though, because the Great Hall is decked out completely for a Christmas feast. Gone are the four house tables; instead, there’s one long table for everyone, and it’s covered in impossible amounts of food. Liam’s a bit overwhelmed as he sits between Louis and Zayn, not sure where to start.

Harry ends up sitting with them, too, beside Zayn. The professors sit with them as well, and it’s just sort of nice and intimate and completely different to every other feast Liam’s had in the castle.

By the end of the week Liam decides to put this one near the top of the list of best holidays ever. If it weren’t for Louis and Zayn it would have been terrible. But he has really great people in his life, and he can’t really ask for more than that.




Niall comes back a few days later, and Louis and Liam both envelope him in a hug. “Missed you,” Liam says. “Liam’s a dictator and a little bitch, I need someone with balls to fuck shit up with me,” Louis says.

Niall mutters, “fuckers” and then hugs them back. “Thanks for the presents, by the way. My mum wasn’t too happy with that dick shaped lollipops though.”

Louis fakes a shocked look. “She obviously doesn’t appreciate beautiful art.”

Niall shakes his head and hands one of his bags to Liam. “Carry this for me?” Liam nods and they head towards the castle. It’s been weirdly warm for the last two days, and some of the snow has melted, leaving the grounds a gross, slushy mess. Liam’s shoes are soaked by the time they get inside. “So what’d you to get up to while I was gone?”

“Well,” Louis starts, cocking his head to the side, “that is a long story that includes a lot of really disgustingly mushy Zayn and Liam stuff, as well as an overdose on cookie dough, and more time spent in Harry Styles’ presence than I thought would be possible without killing him.”

“That probably has to do with the fact that you want to fuck him,” Niall tells him.

Louis stops dead and his eyes widen. “What-- I-- why-- Niall .”

Liam grins. “You know you do, Lou.”

“I-- I-- well, yes, but honestly you can’t blame me for that,” Louis says hotly. “Have you looked at him? He’s like-- awkward because he’s sort of a freak of nature with that hair and those long limbs, but he’s also incredibly attractive and-- no. I’m not having this conversation. Not happening. I would never. My body having a physical reaction and me even considering acting on those desires are two very different things that are not at all related.”

“Okay,” Liam and Niall both say, knowing that if they push this any farther Louis will either kill them or rant to them for so long that they’ll wish he would just get on with it.

“What about you?” Louis snaps at Niall. “You’ve been running after Cher for years. Don’t you think it’s about time to get a more realistic goal?”

Niall shrugs. “No,” he says easily. “Considering the fact that Cher agreed to go to Hogsmeade with me on the next trip.”

Louis gapes at him. Liam pats Niall’s shoulder and says, “Congratulations, mate.”

Louis groans loudly and walks away from them.




Classes start up against and things return to normal. Liam enjoyed the holidays, but there was something easier about having a structured week, as opposed to endless days with nothing planned, that he preferred. Plus, all the extra homework meant that Liam had an excuse to spend endless amounts of time with Zayn in the library. Honestly, Liam think he’s spent more time in the library in the last couple moths than he has in the six previous years at Hogwarts combined.

“What’s the most defining quality of Rowan wood wands?” Liam asks, pen poised above his paper.

Zayn lifts his eyes only long enough to say, “I’m not doing your homework for you, Liam.”

Liam sighs and then smirks and rubs his socked foot up Zayn’s leg. “What if I said there was something in it for you?”

Zayn swallows. He doesn’t fall for it, though. Instead he says, “You finish that in the next half an hour and I’ll suck you off right here, with you in that chair and me on my knees.”

Liam absently presses a finger to the mark on his collar, just under his shirt, that Zayn had given him two days ago that still hasn’t faded. Zayn fucking Malik is honestly going to be the death of him. And he’s also going to be the reason why Liam passes all of his classes.

“Deal,” Liam says, pulling his textbook towards him.

He really, really hates homework, but somehow it’s worth it when, forty minutes later, Zayn’s hair is a dishevelled mess, his cheeks are flushed and hollowed out, and his lips are spread around Liam’s cock. Liam tries to pay attention to the world around them to make sure that someone doesn’t somehow stumble upon them (though Liam has only ever seen one other student at this side of the library in all the time they’ve spent here), but it’s sort of impossible with the way Zayn’s working his tongue over him as he pulls up.

“Come on, Li,” Zayn urges, stroking him quick and hard. “I’ve still got a half page essay to write. And the longer this takes the bigger chance of us getting caught.”

“You really-- know how to-- talk dirty-- don’t you?” Liam gasps out.

Zayn snorts and releases him, standing up. Liam lets out an embarrassingly needy sound at the lack of contact, but then Zayn is straddling him (the chair creaks under their combined wait, and Liam wonders in the back of his mind if it’ll break, and then decides that he probably wouldn’t even notice if it did) and unbuttoning his own pants.

“Come one, Li,” he says again, but this time he’s grabbing Liam’s hand and then, instead of placing it on his own erection, he curls Liam’s fingers around Liam’s cock and then does the same to himself. Liam hesitates for a moment but then Zayn is fisting himself and panting into Liam’s shoulder, and it’s possibly the second hottest thing Liam’s ever witnessed (because nothing will ever compare to the way Zayn looks when he comes, most likely).

There’s something completely filthy about the whole thing, given the fact that they’re in the library for fuck sake, and all he can hear is Zayn’s panting and his own heavy breathes, and the loud sound of skin on skin. Liam comes first, pulling Zayn into a biting kiss and tugging at his hair with his free hand because Zayn likes it, and he sort of likes it, too. Zayn comes a moment later with a broken sound against Liam’s neck.

Afterwards, when they’re struggling to get back into their work, Zayn says, “That was a seriously bad idea. I don’t think I’m going to be able to look at the library for a week without getting hard.”

Liam smiles happily at him.




February brings his next Quidditch game. Liam spends more time on the pitch than in the castle on the week leading up to it, he thinks, but it’s worth it because they completely dominate with an astounding lead of 375 to 90 when they win. He and Zayn use the secret passage way to sneak out to Hogsmeade for a celebratory dinner, and it’s just nice . And Liam is so, completely fallen for him already, but he can’t tell Zayn that yet. He doesn’t know why, it just doesn’t ever feel like the right time, and it just wouldn’t be enough. Those three words just don’t do what he’s feeling justice, and to say them would almost sound too lame and not good enough.

By April they’re close to finishing off the list. Louis is counting them down each time they cross a new one off, until they only have a handful left. They’re in the lead, currently, but a week ago the Slytherins were winning. Really, it could be either ones victory at this point.

It’s in May when things start to go wrong with Zayn. Not with him and Zayn. Just with Zayn . They have their N.E.W.T.s -- which is a series of impossibly hard tests that pretty much dictate whether or not they’ll be able to apply for almost any job in the future-- coming up, and Zayn is sort of freaking out about the whole thing. Liam barely sees him and, honestly, he’d be fine with this if it was just because Zayn was focusing on work. He truly wants what’s best for Zayn in life, and if that means only seeing him in potions for weeks straight, that’s fine for him. But when he does see Zayn, the other boy looks thin and worn out and lost, and Liam feels helpless because he knows he’s freaking out about the upcoming tests.

It isn’t until Harry approaches him that Liam realizes just how bad it is. “He rarely sleeps,” Harry tells him. They’re in an abandoned classroom because Harry had dragged him inside while Liam was on his way to Care of Magical Creatures. “He rarely eats. All he does is study and take notes and it’s freaking me out, Liam.”

Liam sighs and rubs a hand through his hair, which is getting a bit longer now, but is still fairly short. “I didn’t realize he wasn’t sleeping or eating,” Liam says quietly. “I mean, I know he’s working himself hard, I just didn’t realize-- to what extent, you know?”

“I know,” Harry agrees. He leans against a desk and says, “I’m sort of really happy that you’re together, you know that, right?”

Liam frowns at him. “I didn’t, but, um, thank you.”

Harry rolls his eyes. “I just think that you’re good for him. And you’re sort of a good guy, you know? So anyways, I figured you’d be able to fix this. Help him. God knows I’ve tried, but he just waves me off like it’s not a big deal.”

Liam racks his brain, trying to think of a way to get Zayn to relax, when it hits him. “This weekend,” Liam says. “I have an idea, but it’s-- it’s sort of sneaky and morally wrong on several levels, and he’s going to be pissed at us at first, for sure, but--,”

Harry cuts him off with a wave of his hand. “You had me at morally wrong,” he says, grinning. “Tell me what to do.”

Liam explains and Harry nods along. “I can do that,” he says at the end. “I can definitely do that. What time on Friday?”

“As soon as class ends?” Liam offers. “I think it’s best to get him relaxed as soon as possible.”

Harry nods. “We’ll be there, then.”

“Wait, you’re going to stay too?” Liam asks, raising his eyebrows.

Harry smirks at him. “You think I’m going to miss a weekend of watching Louis Tomlinson attempt to camp ? Not likely.”

Liam shakes his head but Harry’s already leaving the room, and Liam, behind. After his last class he finds Louis and Niall both, asking them for help. Louis agrees without question (probably because Liam leaves out the part where Harry has a large part in this) and Niall agrees, too, on the condition that Cher can come with them. Liam nods, not caring because he likes Cher.

Come Friday Liam is really seeing what Harry said. Zayn is restless and jumpy in class, and his eyes are fever bright. The only thing Liam’s seen him consume the entire day is coffee, which he gets from the Great Hall at breakfast and lunch and dinner before darting off for the library or his common room or wherever else it is Zayn goes to study.

“Hey,” Liam says, rubbing a hand over Zayn’s arm. “You okay, babe?”

Zayn’s head jerks up and he nods quickly before saying, “I’m good. Why do you ask?”

Liam rubs his cheek, not caring that they’re in class. “You look tired, Zayn.”

Zayn shakes his head, grinning widely. It looks wrong, though. “Nope. Just a bit stressed, you know, with the NEWTs coming up. I’ll be fine a soon as they’re done. Don’t worry about it.”

Like hell , Liam thinks. Instead he says, “Okay.”

He skips his last class of the day to meet up with Niall and Louis. They sneak off the grounds with Louis’ tent in hand, making their way towards the forbidden forest.

“You know,” Niall says as they walk, “it’s forbidden for a reason, right? Like, there’s some crazy ass shit in here?”

“Scared?” Louis asks, waggling his eyebrows.

“No, just stating facts,” Niall says with a shrug. “’m more worried about you, actually. Didn’t think you could handle living without running water and every piece of clothing in your wardrobe within a few feet of you.”

Louis rolls his eyes. “You both act like I’m some spoiled, stuck up person,” Louis says as they head into the forest.

Honestly, Niall’s probably right to be a bit hesitant about spending the night in the forest. There really are dangerous things inside, not to mention the fact that they’re breaking school rules just stepping foot inside, and actually spending the entire night in the forest is breaking about fifteen. It’s all for a good cause, though, because Zayn needs a break. And it’ll check one of the last things off the list.

They don’t move very far into the forest. Liam suggests that they only go in deep enough that they can light a fire without getting seen, but that they could easily get back onto the school grounds if needed. They find a small area with barely any trees, more than enough space for them to set up the tent and then, later, to make a fire pit.

Louis drops the bag with the tent on the ground and then starts pulling it out. He uses his wand to set it up, and then Liam pulls back the flap and gapes inside.

“I know, we’re really going to be roughing it,” Louis says, shaking his head as he moves inside the tent.

Liam has been inside enchanted tents before. He’d went to the Quidditch World Cup with Niall and his family, and they’d slept in a tent then. It’d been about the size of Louis’ on the outside, but on the inside it had been impossibly large. There had been two separate bedrooms, as well as a bathroom and a mini kitchen. Louis’ tent, on the other hand, is possibly more luxurious than Liam’s whole house. There’s a fully furnished living room with a comfortable looking sofa as well as a white, padded throw rug. Moving father inside he finds a kitchen that is about the same size as Liam’s kitchen at home, as well as a bathroom with a sink that works as long as you cast a spell on it first. Then there are the separate bedrooms. There are four of them. The biggest one has a set of bunk beds inside, as well as a few toys that must belong to Louis’ sisters. Then there are two guest bedrooms that are medium sized with comfortable looking beds -- with bed frames and everything. Finally there’s the master bedroom, which has a king sized bed and a dresser.

“This is ridiculous,” Liam tells him.

Louis frowns. “What do you mean?”

“I mean when muggles go camping, they sleep in a tent that is literally as big on the inside as it looks on the outside, they sleep in sleeping bags, which, since you probably don’t know, are sort of like blankets that zip up. And there is no bathroom or separate bedrooms or sofas.”

Louis gapes at him. “Why would anyone want to camp like that?”

Liam shakes his head. “You’re missing the whole point of being in the wilderness if you take the comforts of home with you.”

“I never claimed to want to spend time in the wilderness,” Louis points out.

“This thing work?” Niall asks, picking up a radio. “Probably. Good luck getting a signal out here, though.”

Niall taps the radio with his wand, and a moment later the tent fills with music that is a bit tiny and static filled. Liam lets out an exasperated sigh and leaves the tent. Harry should be arriving any time with Zayn, and Liam wants to be there to take the brute end of Zayn’s anger at Harry for dragging him out here.

Just as expected, Zayn’s voice proceeds him. “Put me the fuck down Harry, I will throttle you, I swear to fucking god.”

When Harry comes through a set of trees, Zayn literally suspended upside down in the air, being guided by Harry’s wand, Liam says, “That wasn’t part of the plan.”

Zayn twists feebly in the air. “Liam?” he asks, eyes wide. “You had a part of this?”

“Put him down, Harry,” Liam says.

Harry shrugs and drops his wand. Zayn collapses onto the ground in a heap. Harry snorts and says, “You’re so dramatic, Zayn.” Liam, on the other hand, runs to his side to help him up.

Zayn pushes him away as soon as he’s on his feet. He doesn’t look happy at all. “Do you think this is funny?” he asks Liam, and then Harry. “I need to--,”

“You don’t need to anything,” Harry tells him. “I talked to your teachers. Any work you have due on Monday can be handed in later in the week. We’re worried about you, you dick. You need to relax.”

“I really don’t,” Zayn says defensively, taking a step backwards. “I’m fine. I just actually care about passing my classes, unlike everyone else apparently.”

“Don’t lash out,” Liam pleads. He moves towards Zayn and Zayn steps back again. Liam doesn’t let him win, though. He grabs Zayn’s hand and says, “Come on. Walk with me.”

Zayn glares at him for a moment before reluctantly agreeing. “Fine,” he snaps.

Zayn’s hand is limp in his as they move through the trees. Liam makes a point of leading them farther away from the castle, instead of towards it, and Zayn sees to have no idea where they’re going anyways.

“Can I just suggest something?” Liam asks.

“No one’s stopping you,” Zayn says.

Liam realizes that the stress has done more than just effect his appearance, because Zayn’s not usually this cold towards him. “You need a break, babe,” Liam tells him. “Just spend the weekend with us. No homework. No worrying. No studying. No revising. Just -- a nice, relaxing time. Two days. That’s all I ask for.”

“I can’t,” Zayn tells him. “Don’t you get that? This is important. I can’t just slack off for two days.”

“Zayn,” Liam says quietly. “You’ll be okay if you take two days to recuperate. Fuck, I think it’ll help with everything, even. You can’t expect to do well if you’re collapsing in the middle of the test. And-- you’re freaking me out, Zayn. I don’t like seeing you like this.”

Zayn stops and he turns to Liam, dropping his hand. He falls against Liam’s chest, hands fisted in Liam’s shirt. “I’m sorry,” Zayn says, voice muffled. “I’m sorry, Liam, I really am. I just-- I have to do okay, you know? I have to. If not-- it’ll all of been for nothing. Our whole lives depend on these fucking tests, and it’s-- it’s freaking me out.”

Liam tries to rub soothing circles onto his back. “It’s fine,” Liam assures him. “And you’re going to do fine.” He pushes Zayn back just enough that he can look into Zayn’s eyes. “Seriously. You’re brilliant, you realize that, right? Like-- really, really smart, sometimes it intimidates the hell out of me because you’re so far out of my league with everything.”

Zayn snorts, like Liam is ridiculous. “I’m really not.”

“You really are, though,” Liam tells him.

Zayn sighs and steps out of Liam’s arms. “Just for tonight and tomorrow night?” Liam nods. “Fine. But that’s it.” He cocks his head to the side. “Is this for that stupid list?”

“No,” Liam says. “Okay, partially, possibly, but it’s mostly because I miss you, and not just because you’re busy all the time, but because you haven’t really been you in the past couple of weeks.”

“I’ll try not to let it happen again,” Zayn says. “I just-- I tend to get really obsessive when it comes to exams and tests. These are literally the biggest exams of our lives . I’m really surprised that I’m the only one having a breakdown.”

“You’re not,” Liam says instantly. “Louis screamed into a bowl of cereal three days ago, and Niall literally walked out of History the other day. You just need to have a good blow up and then you’ll be fine.”

“A blow up,” Zayn repeats.

“To let off steam,” Liam explains. “It’s healthy.”

“I’m not really the blowing up type,” Zayn says warily.

“I know,’ Liam replies. “That’s why we’re camping.”

Zayn grins and this time he actually does tell Liam how ridiculous he is. Liam doesn’t care because Zayn is smiling genuinely again, and that is a victory all in its own.

When they get back to camp Cher is there with Niall, and the two of them are arguing over a bag of marshmallows. Louis and Harry are both inside the tent, each on a different end of the sofa. Well, Harry is sitting at one end of the sofa. Louis is sitting on one end of the sofa, perched on the arm rest like a bird because Louis doesn’t understand how furniture works.

“Zayn,” Harry says when they walk in, jumping up. He turns to Liam. “You convinced him, then?”

“I’ve kind of got a weak spot where this one is concerned, and you know that,” Zayn tells Harry.

Harry grins and hugs him. Louis watches this with an affectionate look on his face until he realizes what he’s doing, and then he schools his face into a look of disgust and annoyance that Liam isn’t buying at all.

“So, camping,” Zayn says when Harry releases him. “What does that entail, exactly?”

There are several answers to this, apparently, including making s’mores, telling horror stories (Harry attempts to and, after a fifteen minute story that seemed to have no end, Louis cut him off and started one of his own) as well as cuddling under the stars (mostly just for Liam and Zayn, though Cher and Niall sit outside with them for a bit, too) and also a lot of kissing, from literally everyone, which Liam discovers when he goes to gets an extra chocolate bar for s’mores from the kitchen and finds Louis against the counter, Harry pressing him up against it.

Liam backs away from them as slowly as he can, trying not to make too much noise, but then Zayn comes up behind him and says, “Niall wants a bottle of butterbeer, too.”

Harry and Louis jump apart, and Zayn gapes at them. Harry’s lips are red and Louis’ hair is a mess, and his tie is completely undone.

“I was choking,” Louis gasps out. “He was-- giving me-- CPR.”

Liam covers his face with his hand and drags Zayn from the room, waiting until they’re far away to burst into laughter because Louis would have probably punched him if he had done it in front of him.

“That’s new,” Zayn says when Liam stops. “Sort of been waiting for that to happen for years, though.”

Liam looks up at him, eyebrows drawing together. “Seriously? I kept waiting for them to kill each other, not kiss each other.”

Zayn shrugs and wraps his arms around Liam’s waist, hand going in his back pocket. “Harry’s sort of been in love with Louis for, like, ever. But he pretends that he hates him.”


“Because both of our best friends are idiots,” Zayn supplies. “He was giving me CPR .”

“Point taken,” Liam says.

They head back outside to find Niall and Cher attached at the lips. “Is this how everyone feels around us?” Zayn asks, tilting his head to the side as he watches them.

“Probably,” Liam admits. He turns to Zayn and says, “Want to head to bed instead? You could probably use an entire night’s sleep.”

Zayn nods slowly. “I think I’ve slept a total of fifteen hours in the last week. Maybe less.”

“No more,” Liam tells him, guiding Zayn back into the tent. “Okay?”

“Okay,” Zayn agrees. “Start spending time with me in the library again?”

Liam nearly pauses on the way to the smallest guest bedroom. “Are you sure? You kicked me out for distracting you.”

Zayn shrugs and pushes open the flap of the door to the room. “Sort of good to have a distraction every once in a while, maybe.”

There isn’t any light in the room, and neither he nor Zayn bother to light their wands to see their way around. Liam instead shucks off his shirt and pants, and the pulls off Zayn’s in the dark until they’re both in just their boxers. He pulls Zayn over to the bed, tucks back the blanket, and then gently pushes him down onto it before crawling over him to get in on the other side.

Zayn yawns loudly beside him and rolls over to face him. Liam traces Zayn’s features with his fingers before saying, very quietly, “I’m kind of in love with you.”

Zayn lets out an amused sound and moves closer. “I’ve sort of been in love with you for years.”

“No, not-- I mean, I’m really, truly in love with you. Everything about you. All of you. I just-- don’t even know how to explain it because it feels like so much,” Liam says softly.

“Liam,” Zayn says gently. “You’re the greatest thing I’ve ever had, okay? You don’t have to explain it because I know exactly what you mean.”

Liam kisses him then because he figures that Zayn really doesn’t, but he doesn’t want to say that. He doesn’t want to ruin this. But then Zayn kisses him so slowly and tenderly that Liam thinks maybe, possibly, he actually does get it.

“I--,” Zayn yawns, “love you--,” another yawn, “too. Lots. And sleep. I love you and sleep. I want both. Right now.”

Liam lays his head on Zayn’s chest and lets him have both, though Zayn’s sort of always had him, long before this.




The rest of the weekend is spent relaxing. There’s enough supplies in Louis’ ridiculous tent that they don’t have to leave the forest. Liam forces Zayn to stay relaxing almost the whole day. He gets Zayn his food and rubs his shoulders and kisses his neck and slowly, Zayn starts to look more like himself. His skin doesn’t look at ashen, and there aren’t bags under his eyes anymore.

By the time the weekend is over, Zayn is back to the Zayn that Liam loves, and Liam’s just grateful that their plan had worked.

“Thank you,” Zayn says as they head back up to the castle on Sunday. “Really, Liam, I needed that.”

“Anytime,” Liam says easily. He bumps his shoulder into Zayn’s. “Seriously. Any time. Lean on me whenever you need to, okay?”

“Okay,” Zayn agrees.

Of course, Zayn still throws himself back into his work as soon as he can, but he doesn’t go so overboard with it. If Liam or Harry find that he’s spent more than five hours straight in the library, one of them go and drag him out. Liam finds himself spending a lot more time with Harry than he ever thought he would, and he really doesn’t mind the Slytherin so much anymore.

He and Louis and Niall have all let their guard down, which is probably why, a few days later at lunch, when Harry offers Louis a chocolate, Louis takes it. And then, a few moments later, his eyes glaze over and Harry starts cackling.

“Zayn,” Louis breathes, and Liam stiffens because he loves Louis, he does, but he does not want his best mate talking to his boyfriend in that kind of voice.

Zayn groans loudly and throws something at Harry. “Really? You had to use one of my hairs?”

Liam blinks and then gets it. “Love potion,” he says.

“You’re so pretty,” Louis sighs at Zayn. “So, so pretty. And smart. You’re really smart. And your tattoos are so hot. Fuck.”

Liam sits up and grabs Louis’ arm and turns to Zayn, “Help me?”

Zayn shrugs and gets up, but Louis is right there, wrapping his arms around Zayn’s neck. He leans into him and whispers something that Liam doesn’t hear, but Zayn’s cheeks go bright red and he says, “Fucking Christ, Louis.”

“Right here,” Louis adds, “I don’t care if anyone sees.”

Zayn carefully extracts himself from Louis’ grip and glares at Harry. “You’re an ass, you know that?”

Harry shrugs and happily eats his lunch.

It’s pretty easy to get Louis out of the Great Hall. Anywhere Zayn goes, Louis cheerfully follows. He’s trying really, really hard not to be jealous, but that’s his boyfriend and Louis is his best friend, and it’s a little hard not to when Louis looks at Zayn like he wants to devour him.

“Louis,” Liam snaps while Louis makes a grab for Zayn’s ass.

“Mm?” Louis frowns at him. “I can’t help myself. He’s just so---,” Louis breaks off with a sigh.

“This is making me really uncomfortable,” Zayn comments.

“I could make you more comfortable,” Louis tells him. He raises his eyebrows suggestively. “Just get rid of Liam and we could--,”

“We are not getting rid of Liam,” Zayn says, pushing open the door to their potions room. Madam Lovette is inside, and she frowns at them as they walk in. “Love potion,” Zayn explains. “Someone slipped it to him while we weren’t looking.”

“Oh, dear,” Madam Lovette says, jumping out. She tsks and heads for the supply closet. “They should be banned, you know. Nothing good ever comes from a love potions. I always tell everyone this, but no one ever listens to me.”

Liam has his arms around Louis’ middle, stopping him from groping Liam’s boyfriend. “Let me go , Liam,” Louis hisses. “I need to see if he tastes as good as he looks.”

“He does,” Liam tells him. “But you’re going to have to just trust my judgement on that.”

Zayn must hear this because his cheeks turn red as he continues to talk to Madam Lovette. Louis melts into Liam’s arms and says, “Tell me what he likes, Liam. What he’s interested in. You know him better than anyone.”

Liam is going to kill Harry this time. And Louis will likely help him.

Madam Lovette gets the antidote made up for Louis, which he drinks without question when Zayn tells him to. Liam watches as Louis goes from dazed and lovestruck to confused and horrified, and then murderous.

“I’ll kill him,” Louis states. “Zayn, you better get to your mate before I do because I’m going to have a new coat made out of his skin in about ten minutes.”

“If you kill him I’ll have to tell Liam what you said to me in the Great Hall,” Zayn says as they make their way back towards the hall in question. “And then Liam would have to kill you.”

“You can’t blame me for that, Liam,” Louis says instantly. “I wasn’t--,”

“I know,” Liam says honestly. “I don’t. But-- just curious, what did you say?”

Louis and Zayn both shake their heads, flushing. “Quite an imagination you have, though,” Zayn says. “I don’t even think it’s fully possible to actually do what you suggested. I doubt my body can bend like that.”

Liam decides that, yeah, he’s better not knowing.




The week of their NEWTs is stressful on everyone. Louis is a snappy, bitchy mess, threatening creative forms of bodily harm on everyone who interrupts his studying. Liam is freaking out, just a bit, and it’s only because of Zayn that he manages to stay Zayn. Zayn, weirdly enough, gets calmer the closer they get to their tests. Liam doesn’t get it, but Zayn is completely zen about the whole thing. Niall, on the other hand, has adopted a completely no fucks given attitude. He refuses to crack open a book or revise at all. Instead he spends most of his time in the Great Hall, eating and teasing them all for working so hard.

“If you freak out,” Niall explains, “you’ll do worse. You’ve just got to trust that you’ll be fine and you’ll be fine.”

Liam doesn’t think this is very smart, but he refuses to look up from his potions book to tell Niall this.

Louis has a breakdown the day before their first test. It takes Liam, Niall, and Zayn to calm him down, but even then they’re not doing a very good job. They’re in the Great Hall and Louis just starts crying. Liam, in all the time he’s known Louis, has only seen him cry a total of three times.

“Our-- whole-- futures,” Louis gasps out. Liam tries to rub soothing circles in his back, while Niall says, “You’ll be fine, Louis.”

“No,” Louis says, shaking his head. He looks horrified. “I’m going to fail everything, my whole entire life will have been for nothing. I have nothing to live for.”

Liam tries to think of something consoling to say, because, really, they’re all in the same boat right now, he should be able to give them all some sort of pep talk. But before Liam can even open his mouth, Harry is sliding into the seat next to Louis.

“Tomlinson,” Harry says, and Louis looks up, furiously wiping his tears off his cheeks in embarrassment. “Go fuck yourself.”

Louis gapes at him and then, a beat later, says, “Go fuck your self.”

“Rather you do it for me,” Harry says.

Louis snorts. “Dream on, Slytherin. I wouldn’t touch you for a million galleons.”

Liam watches this exchange with his eyebrows drawn together, because Louis is suddenly back to his normal, haughty, better than everyone self. His eyes are red and his cheeks are still a bit wet, but he’s no longer sobbing.

“They’re ridiculous,” Zayn says softly, head ducked so only Liam can hear him. “Honestly.”

Liam grins. “Think they’re aware of how in love with each other they are?”

Zayn shakes his head. “Definitely not. They’re oblivious, though I really don’t see how because it’s really, really blatantly obvious.”

“Are you serious?” Niall says suddenly, cutting in. “You realize that Louis and I had the same conversation about you two, like, five months ago, right?”

Zayn grins so wide that his eyes become little slits with crinkles at the side. “And look what happened there.”

“You’re insufferable,” Harry states, pushing away from the table. “I came over here because you looked like you needed someone to cheer you up, and all you do is yell at me. Fuck you, Louis.”

“Back at you, babe,” Louis says as Harry walks away. He rolls his eyes and turns back to the rest of them. “God, he’s annoying.”

Liam shakes his head fondly, Zayn snort, and Niall says, “Everyone needs to learn how to talk about their fucking feels, it would solve so many problems.”

“Don’t know what you’re talking about, mate,” Louis says primly.




The day of their final test, Liam comes out of his feeling dazed and lost. He thinks he did as good as he could, but he can’t be sure. There’s nothing he can do about it now, though, so he heads down the hall, knowing that Zayn should be done his Arithmancy test soon.

When the door to Zayn’s room opens and the students stream out, Liam pushes away from the wall, waiting to spot that familiar quiff and those eyes that are truly all of his favourite colours at once.

He doesn’t see Zayn before the other boy is on him. Zayn jumps into his arms, legs wrapping around Liam’s waist, arms around his neck. He’s grinning widely and Liam can’t do anything but grab his thighs and try not to drop him.

“It’s over,” Zayn breathes. “It’s over, Liam. We fucking did it.”

“Let’s just hope we passed,” Liam says quietly.

Zayn shakes his head and kisses Liam hard. Several people are privy to this, but Liam doesn’t give a fuck. He kisses Zayn back as hard as he can, trying to make up for all of the missed opportunities they’ve had lately, because they haven’t had time to do much else but study and worry.

“I love you,” Zayn gasps, pulling back. “I love you, I love you, I love you. And I fucking hate exams.”

Liam grins and drops Zayn to the ground, opting to push him against the nearest wall instead. He licks into Zayn’s mouth, finding that familiar citrusy smoky taste as Zayn’s tongue moves against his, kissing him back roughly. They’re pretty evenly matched for dominance until Liam tugs at Zayn’s hair, and then the other boy whimpers into Liam’s mouth and jerks his hips forward at the same time.

“Ahem.” Liam and Zayn break apart as Zayn’s Arithmancy teacher raises her eyebrows at them.

Liam takes a step far away from Zayn, cheeks heating up, and Zayn awkwardly straightens his shirt before saying, “Sorry, ma’am.”

Madam Bantlam shakes her head fondly. “You boys should be outside celebrating, not in the halls.”

“That is a very good idea,” Liam says, grabbing Zayn’s hand. “Come on.”

Zayn grins sheepishly at her and allows Liam to drag him until they’re out the doors by the Ravenclaw tower. Liam keeps going, guiding Zayn through the field by the gamekeeper’s hut, while Zayn asks, “Where are we going?”

Liam pauses and looks around and then pulls him left until he stops and says. “Here.”

“Why are we here?” Zayn asks as Liam tugs him to the ground.

“Because,” Liam says, pushing on Zayn’s shoulders until he’s lying down, “this if the first place that I kissed you.”

“Cheesy,” Zayn tells him. “You are a cheesy fuck, Liam Payne.”

“I’m okay with that,” Liam replies.

Zayn smiles fondly at him and brushes a hand over Liam’s cheek. “So am I.”




The Gryffindors win the challenge that night when Niall and Cher sneak off to Hogsmeade for a date at the Shrieking Shack. Louis is cheerfully smug about the whole thing for the rest of the night, and the Slytherins are all sulking. Honestly, Liam doesn’t really care about winning. He’s got Zayn on his left, a hand on his thigh as they eat, and Liam figures that he won a long, long time ago.

The next day Liam is definitely seeing the upside to winning, though. All of the seventh year Slytherins enter the Great Hall in gold and red. The other houses snicker and laugh at them, and the Gryffindors are all smug about it. There’s something really satisfying about the whole thing.

Harry is the last one to enter. He’s decked out in a red and gold jumper, as well as a red and gold tie. He’s got red and gold paint on his cheeks, too, but he doesn’t look upset. He’s got his head tilted high, and he spreads his arms when he walks in.

“Are you happy?” he shouts to Louis.

“Very much so,” Louis calls back.

Harry nods and then walks over to the Hufflepuff table -- which is closest to where he was standing-- and he climbs on top of it, despite the fact that one of their professors is yelling at him.

“Louis Tomlinson,” Harry shouts. “You are the most annoying, rude, infuriating, stuck up person I’ve ever met.”

“Thank you,” Louis says, aware of the fact that literally everyone in the entire room is watching the two of them now.

“Go out with me,” Harry finishes.

Louis’ cheeks go red and he says, “Are you insane?”

“Must be,” Harry says, jumping off the table. “Only someone with serious mental deficiencies would be in love with you.”

Louis narrows his eyes as Harry moves towards him. “What do you say, Lou?”

And then the room erupts into shouts of, “Say yes!” and “Give the man a chance, Louis!” and “What the fuck is going on here?”

Harry grins and gives Louis a ‘what are you gonna do?’ look. “So?”

The room is quiet as Louis contemplates his answer, and then finally he says, “Oh, fine. I don’t really have a choice, do I?”

Harry, satisfied, heads over to the Slytherin table. Louis turns back around and resumes eating like nothing happened, but he mutters, “That was incredibly dramatic.”

Liam points his fork at him. “You love dramatics.”

“That I do, Liam,” Louis says solemnly. “That I do.”




They’re heading home tomorrow afternoon. There is a very depressed feel in the common room for every one of the seventh years. Next year they won’t be coming back here. This is it. This is the end of their time at Hogwarts. And Louis wants to go out with a bang.

“One last prank to rule them all,” Louis says seriously. “It’s going to be elaborate and shocking and we’ll be remembered for it for the rest of our lives.”

Liam eyes him warily from where he’s sitting on the couch beside Niall. “What do you have planned?”

Louis grins at him.

Forty minuets later and Liam is sweating like crazy. His shirt is slick and stuck to his back, and the spell he’s using is taking a lot out of him, mostly because he’s ever tried to use it on something so heavy before. “How is this the greatest prank ever?” Liam questions.

Niall shrugs. “I have no fucking idea.”

“Because it’s never been done before!” Louis says shrilly. “Just shut up and keep moving that table.”

That table being the gigantic, impossibly heavy Slytherin table from the Great Hall. Honestly, Liam has no idea how the fuck they managed to not only break into the Great Hall, but also get the school’s front doors open (they were the only ones big enough to fit the table through) and the entire fucking table outside through it without getting caught.

“Here is good,” Louis says. He smirks as the three of them carefully lower their wands. The table still falls to the ground with a booming, crunching sound. Nothing’s broken that Liam can see, though. “They’re all going to head inside for breakfast tomorrow, and they’ll be so fucking confused.”

“This is the dumbest prank ever,” Liam tells him.

“You don’t understand true genius, Liam,” Louis says hotly. “Which is why you can head back to the Great Hall and get the Slytherin banners from the ceiling.”

Liam groans and starts the trek back up to the castle. He makes it to the Great Hall without incident, removes the Slytherin tapestries from the ceiling, and bunches them up in his arms. They’re heavier than they look, and he struggles to carry them out the door and into the hall, just as he hears a pair of footsteps.

“Shit,” Liam breathes. Technically he’s already graduated, and he knows he can’t get detention or anything, but if he manages to get expelled on his last day of school, he has a feeling that any potential employers won’t be very pleased with him.

Liam adjusts the cloth over his shoulder and bolts for the nearest door. It’s a small closet with nothing but a few brooms and other cleaning supplies, which he learns as soon as he lights his wand.

Liam sighs and leans against the wall just as the sound of footsteps outside the door has him tensing. Liam sucks in a breath and waits as someone turns the handle, ready for whatever is to come.

“Really, Gryffindor?” Zayn asks, standing in the doorway. “Saving your ass again, just like old times, then?”

Liam lets out a relieved sigh and drops the tapestry so he can grab Zayn by the waist and pull him in for a kiss.